Police in Gbarnga City, Bong County, have rounded up more than 50 people from David Dean Town, commonly known as Gold Camp, and Sayeweh Town in Kokoyah Statutory District for reportedly vandalizing facilities of MNG-Gold.
Around 4 p.m. on Monday, November 5, a vehicle belonging to a Chinese company hired by MNG-Gold was involved in an accident that resulted into the death of four persons near Sayeweh Town.
The driver of the company’s vehicle reportedly escaped the scene for fear of being attacked as residents, who were already frustrated with the company’s operations, allegedly set the Toyota land cruiser four-door pickup ablaze.
Fuming residents, according to reports, allegedly vandalized facilities of MNG-Gold, including the main office of the company, the gold processing plant and a high school that is being constructed by the company for the citizens, minutes after the hired Chinese land cruiser Toyota Pickup killed four residents of the town.
The school is being built by MNG-Gold as part of its corporate social responsibility as enshrined in the Mineral Development Agreement signed between the government and the company.
Speaking on a local radio station in Gbarnga via mobile phone from David Dean Town on Wednesday November 7, 2018, Bong County Police Commander, Fredrick Neppay, said that the suspects, though having been rounded up, are yet to be formally charged, while some of them are helping with an ongoing investigation.
According to Neppay, the arrests from the Gold Camp and Sayeweh Town “does not in any way suggest that they are responsible for vandalizing the company’s facilities, while many others will be invited as long as investigation is ongoing.”
He informed the Daily Observer that those who are not linked with the violence inflicted on the company’s facilities will be allowed to go home, adding, “But those who will be connected to the destruction of the company’s properties will be charged and sent to court for prosecution.”
Though Commander Nappay did not state the extent of the damage done to the MNG-Gold’s facilities, police maintained that several valuables, including some gold, were looted, some of which have been retrieved by police following a cordon search.
On several occasions, residents of Sayeweh Town and surrounding villages affected by the operations of MNG-Gold have complained of the company’s failure to improve their impoverished lives.
Residents have persistently expressed frustration with the company’s handling of chemical waste from its gold mining operations, which allegedly spilled into nearby waterways. The management later admitted that cyanide (chemicals) from its plant affected creeks that serve as sources of water for those in Sayeweh Town.
Recently residents of the area filed a US$285 million action of damage for wrong against MNG-Gold at the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Gbarnga City.
It was also reported that 19 school-going kids were vomiting blood as a result of the company’s waste site which was constructed near the school campus. The vomiting incident led to the school administrations immediately closure of the school to the public until the situation could be addressed.
Meanwhile, the citizens, through Statutory Superintendent Conde Yallah, are appealing to government to review the agreement between the citizens and MNG-Gold management.