10 August 2012

Liberians Live in Deplorable Condition At Logging Company

River Cess County — Liberian employees at the Mandra-EJ and J and Mandra-Liberia Trees and Trading Company (LTTC) are living in deplorable conditions, an investigation by The Heritage has established. The sister companies operate in the Central River Cess District of River Cess County.

Their living quarters are deplorable; akin to animals living in caves. Visiting the grounds, this writer noted that the Liberian employees must crawl or bend down on their back just to enter their rooms. Some of them, who spoke to this paper on the condition of anonymity, fearing they would lose their jobs if their identities were revealed, described appalling living conditions.

Their bedrooms have dirt floors, no light source and just enough rooms to crouch. Standing is not an option. They said they are forced to accept the conditions because there are so few jobs in the country, and even fewer in River Cess County. "Life is very bad but there is nothing else to do, and so we have to hold on to this in the mean time," said one of the employees.

"Brother, you can clearly see for yourself, we are living in holes or in caves here, and that shouldn't be so. That's not fair for us as citizens of this country," he continued. Quizzed about the salary structure, the employees, most of whom are casual laborers, described it as "disheartening."

"Most of us earn between US$100 and US$120 on a monthly basis along with 25KG of rice. We have families we have to support," another employee said. The employees said some have been dismissed by the company without notice or explanation. The company's Camp Manager Mr. Eric Chiong denied the employees' claims. "Everything is good," he said.

He said the company provides all for the employees, despite the complaints. Commenting on the sleeping quarters, he said the site is temporary and that the company may move on in the near future, potentially as soon as dry season arrives. On the issue of the redundancy, the EJ and J Manager noted that it was done due to the rainy season.

Production, he said, is low during the rainy season and the company must reduce its work force.

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