The group under the banner “Concerned Nimbaians for the Re–negotiation and Resigning of Mineral Development Agreement,” between the Government and ArcelorMittal marched peacefully through the principal streets of Ganta.
Our Nimba Correspondent said the Thursday, February 13th street protest began unusually during the late evening hours, after ArcelorMittal management failed to reach an agreement on obligations in the MDA.
The group carried lit candles in solidarity of the fallen compatriots, who they said advocated for Nimba. As they marched, they called on ArcelorMittal to leave, describing the steel giant as ‘rogue.’
“We are carrying this candle in solidarity of our falling Nimbaians who began this advocacy long ago,” said the head Saye Musah.
“This carrying of candle is also to lighten the minds of Nimbaians that we are no longer sleeping,” said another demonstrator.
The Concerned Nimbaians accused the steel giant of failing to abide by the MDA, which calls for employment of Liberians, especially those from the affected areas, rehabilitation of roads and provision of basic facilities such as hospital and schools within the concession areas.
In September of last year, this group and representatives of ArcelorMittal met in Zolowee for the first time to discuss the concerns raised regarding the implementation of the MDA. Following that meeting, our Nimba Correspondent said ArcelorMittal agreed to increase the numbers of Liberians in its employ and carryout rehabilitation of facilities such as schools and hospital.
Since the September meeting, Mittal has been carrying extensive renovation on projects including schools, vocational school and hospital in Yekapa.
However, the Concerned Nimbaians are saying there still remains much for ArcelorMittal to do.
“Most of our brothers are still waiting in Yekapa in vain to be employed, but cannot be employed,” they said in their statement.
Prior to the demonstration, the head of the group, Saye Musah, told the local radio breakfast show that the organization is planning to move on Yekapa in mid-February and urged all of ArcelorMittal’s employees to stay away from work.
Concern had been mounting in Nimba recently over the delay by the steel giant in paving the Ganta–Yekapa Road, which was promised by Lakshmi Mittal in 2007 when he paid a courtesy visit on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The delay, Concerned Nimbaians said, indicates a mockery and don’t-care attitude on the part of ArcelorMittal.
The Concerned Nimbaians later with ArcelorMittal’s CEO, Mr. Antonio Carlos Mario, on the 15th of February 2014, at which time they submitted their petition to the management.
ArcelorMittal has scheduled Saturday, March 15th 2014, as the date by which the management will respond to the organization's demands.
The meeting was attended by Senator Thomas Grupee, outgoing Nimba County Supt. Christiana Dagadu and ArcelorMittal representatives.