LIBERIA: ‘Country Devils’ Protest Against ArcelorMittal Operation
Traditional masked dancers are commonly known here as country devils have besieged operational areas of ArcelorMittal Liberia in over five affected communities in Nimba County, preventing workers from reporting to jobs.
The country devils mainly from the Poro society, which is the male traditional school here, complained of lack of job opportunities for the affected communities, including basic human needs, among others.
Some executives of the Poro told this paper Tuesday they want the ArcelorMittal Management particularly its Chief Executive Officer to meet with them in the bush to answer questions about the lack of attention for the communities affected by the company’s operations.
The protesting devils blocked the main road leading to the mines and other access roads, demanding answers to their demands.
Currently, the company has halted the transportation of ores from Yekepa in Nimba County to Grand Bassa County due to a recent accident involving its train.
A locomotive of the company was involved in an accident along the Sanniquellie- Ganta highway in Nimba County. No fatality was reported.
The accident transpired at about 8 pm on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, specifically near Gbedin Camp ( 3) in district# 2, Nimba, leading the mining company to halt transportation of ores from Yekepa, Nimba County to Grand Bassa County.
ArcelorMittal Liberia in a press release Wednesday, September 22, 2021, reported that at approximately 8:00 pm on September 21, 2021, one of its locomotives traveling from Tokadeh in Nimba County to Buchanan was targeted by criminals which resulted in an incident on the rail tracks about 215 Kilometers near Sanniquellie.
It said the presumed target of the criminals were tarpaulins covering its iron ore wagons to keep out moisture, detailing that during this blatant attack, some of the moving wagons were deliberately disconnected from its braking systems and veered off the rail track, resulting in damage to a portion of the rail line. No fatalities or injuries were reported.
Meanwhile, some staffers from the company who are members of the Poro Society intervened and pleaded to the headmaster of the Poro to ask the country devils to leave the roads and allow the company to operate, pending a round table to address their concerns.