LIBERIA: Who’s Behind the Sale of ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Railway Track as Scraps?

A section of the dismantled railway track near Gbapa ready to be sold as scrap

Liberians and investors are witnessing what can only be described as flagrant attacks against a company whose commitment to Liberia has been steadfast in its post-war economic recovery drive and during some of the most difficult moments,  concluding the global economic downturns, the Ebola outbreak and COVID-19 pandemics.

Despite its lifeline economic contributions to Liberia’s post-conflict recovery and development as largest foreign direct investment, a leading taxpayer and private-sector employer, ArcelorMittal Liberia continues to be the victim of regular criminal attacks, vandalism, and violence, most times without receiving justice or a strong commitment or determination from authorities to protect the interest and assets of the company which has been a strong economic partner to Liberia.

A day after ArcelorMittal Liberia reported attempted sabotage of its rail operations by unknown individuals who damaged joint bars on the rail track with an intent to cause a derailment, our reporters have learned of another syndicate to sell the company’s rail track around the Town of Gbapa leading to Mount Nimba where some individuals have already dismantled the track and are selling the components as metal scraps.

Reporters and other journalists who visited the site last weekend observed several individuals actively dismantling and cutting the tracks. Describing themselves as scrap dealers, the individuals told journalists that they had authorization from and were acting on behalf of Nimba county officials to carry on the act.

An ArcelorMittal source confirmed that the company sent a letter to Nimba County Superintendent Nelson Korquoi, drawing his attention and requesting his urgent intervention to curtail the illegal cutting and dismantling of the rail track leading from Gbapa, Nimba County to the old LAMCO mines. The company intimated that it is the second time that such criminal action has been reported to the Superintendent’s office and called for the prosecution of those responsible for thos unpatriotic act..

Attempts to reach the superintendent’s office for comment proved futile as several calls were not answered.

For a country determined to attract and gain investors’ confidence, such actions have the potential to stain the country’s image and scare away businesses looking to invest in Liberia.

Our investigation continues.

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