Madam Betty Z. Loman

Western Cluster Liberia on the Move, Ready To transform Communities in Bomi County

By Jean Pierr Gonani

Madam Betty Z. Loman

Bomi County, one of Liberia’s naturally endowed counties in iron ore, is often giggled at for having nothing to brag of, and nothing to show; having enjoyed the company of good antebellum investments that could have changed it into an oasis of development, oasis of socio-economic boom, and an oasis of transformation beyond class and comparison.

 Too often people fondly refer to the county as ‘Bomi Holes’, an appellation depicting the only hollows left to behold following the depletion of its iron ore deposits by various companies in the 1960s and 1970s.

True that this evil has been melted against the County that is just few miles away from the seat of Government (the City of Monrovia), does not certainly depict absolute unchangeableness and insuperableness, but that there equally still remains glaring chances the people of the County can take advantage of to overcome the horrible deficits of backwardness.

The Western Cluster ore deposits lie in Bomi Hills, Bea Mountain, and Mano River, in the country’s western region, which is known for its high poverty rate.  The Bomi Hills deposit was once owned by the former Liberia Mining Company (LMC), which ceased work in 1990.  

Recuperating from this lost opportunity is what is being seen in the advent of Western Cluster Limited and its parent company, Sesa Goa, a subsidiary of Vedanta Limited, as an investment which presents a crystal-clear platform for resetting the button towards progressive transformation.

Indisputably, Bomi County and its people are blessed more than ever before to have in their company a global giant in mining that comes at the time of competition.

A country that has endured and continues to suffer the entrenched and undying evil of corruption, ravenousness, exclusiveness and overbearing self-aggrandizement, all of which lubricated a biting setback in development and all other forms of progress since its existence should be celebrating the emergence or influx of companies of global stature; rather than creating bottlenecks that run quite contrary to expectations.

It could be a display of naivety should anyone (those who continue to push their interest over the general wellbeing of the people) suggest or ever imagine that the country is not running on a very slippery ground, or is having a respite free of socio-economic heat and pressure, and an excruciating suppuration.

From all accounts and in the context, it is this huge hiatus of developmental anguish and impediment, of lack of job opportunities, of giving citizens good living standards that Western Cluster Liberia has come to close; to restore the years lost to the locusts, and ensure that the people of Bomi County and the communities in particular and Liberia in general benefit from their natural endowments.

The writings on the wall have already depicted the evidential progressiveness Western Cluster Limited has brought to the table, an unequivocal prognostication that the failure of companies to live up to their obligations to the county is not applicable to this company, which is posed to change the way game had been played in time past, and a kind of concession that eluded the county and country for decades.

Since 2011, when it signed the agreement with the government of Liberia, it has invested approximately US$300 million in the country, including payment for the concession rights; US$15.5 million payment to the Community Development Fund; construction of two major bridges – the Klay Junction Bridge and the Gui Town Bridge; upgrading and maintaining the Tubmanburg to St. Paul River Bridge Road; and several other communities and infrastructure development initiatives.

Western Cluster Limited has contributed US$1.5 Million towards the road rehabilitation process in Bomi.

Head of Western Cluster head, Mr. Chetan Savant, in clean up exercise in Tubmanburg, June 5,2023

In addition to that, during July & August 2022, WCL did temporary pothole rehabilitation by providing over 300 truckloads of hard rock for compacting work during the rainy season by spending around US$80,000, to reduce inconvenience to commuters.

This was attested by the management of Western Cluster Limited in a statement:  “We at Western Cluster are extremely happy to partner in the growth and development of Liberia.”  Not only that, but also Western Cluster will continue to remain engage with all communities it is working with.

The level of good work done by Western Cluster was attested by   Klay Township Commissioner, madam Sarah Karnely. “I want to tell them thank you, even though I was not in power when they constructed that bridge. It is a great benefit to us, not only the district, the county, but the whole country. The bridge is a very good help to us. I remember normal days; they had palm log on that bridge and other people had accident there. But since they put that bridge there, it has been great help to us.”

While others blatantly chose to default on their commitments to government as per the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), Western Cluster Limited has been on the right trajectory, making upfront payment of US$46.06 million to government in withholding taxes, community development funds, etc., and equally supporting several critical infrastructural projects for the public at-large and ensuring positive impact of its operations in the region.

Even ordinary citizens are attesting to the enormous benefit they are receiving indirectly from the presence of Western Cluster. Abraham M. Turay, a driver.

“We say more thanks to Western Cluster for their coming. The reason is simple.  The coming of Western Cluster to Bomi County it means plus for our county. As we speak, those that have houses are getting money because of the increase number of people here. Because people heard about Western Cluster, they are coming to look for job. These people will not live outside, they are not animals, they are not goat, not chicken, so they will have to have shelter. They will live inside house.”

For sure, Western Cluster is on the move, ready and situated enough to transform a county that has lost so much in time past, to make it developmentally competitive and buoyant, eventually surpassing others that are ahead of them. This power is found in Western Cluster Limited, and all that is required of the people of Bomi is a cooperative attitude, giving the company time and breathing space to execute its operations unhindered and void of hostile activities.

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