The New Dawn (Monrovia)

24 May 2013

Liberia: Pr China or India - Who Takes Wologisi Mountain?

The Government of the People's Republic of China has expressed interest in exploiting the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County, northwestern Liberia, amidst reports here that an Indian company O.P. Jindal Group has similar interest.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, told a news conference Thursday in Monrovia that the Wologisi Mountain is China's interest, but there is yet no formal agreement between both governments.

"Wologisi remains one of China's interests, but still awaiting bidding process from the Liberian government," Ambassador Zhao told Journalists here. Earlier reports here said the Government of Liberia has awarded the mountain to an Indian company through Mr. Robert Sirleaf, son of President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf.

But the House of Representatives Chairperson on investment, Moses Kollie, has clarified that there is no concession agreement being submitted to the House or the Legislative Caucus of Lofa County relative to the Wologisi Mountain as was being reported by the media.

Addressing a news conference on Thursday, May 23, 2013, Representative Kollie said the speculations are totally false and misleading. He said the caucus as political head of the county had never been consulted by the executive branch of government on any plan of such.

According to him, Vice President Joseph Boakai upon arrival in the country from India recently, called members of the Lofa County Legislative Caucus for a meeting at which time the Vice President distributed proposal for the mountain, but a proposal is far different from concession.

An Indian company O.P. Jindal Group is said to have arrived in the country to grab one of Liberia's richest mineral deposits, the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County with a package of over two billion United States Dollars.

A NewDawn investigation revealed that Vice President Boakai confirmed recent information concerning his involvement into agreement with the Indian company to exploit the iron ore-rich Wologisi Mountain.

The Vice President was said to have been accompanied by a top Indian businessman in Liberia, popularly known as Jeety and other Liberian government officials. Mr. Jeety is also India's Counsel General in Liberia. The visit to India was reportedly intended to enable VP Boakai familiarize himself with the management team of the company and get acquainted with its operations.

But outlining China's progress and future investment plan, the Chinese envoy noted that China will do its best for Liberians mainly people in the county to benefit from the investment whenever a concession is finalized.

The Ambassador said he could not provide further detail, pending a formal negotiation with the Liberian government, saying "It is too early to talk about the process; let's wait until the formal negotiation between the two countries starts and is concluded."

However, speaking on other issues, Ambassador Zhao said plan by China to construct a proposed US$60 Ministerial Complex for the Government of Liberia is on course, adding that his government has already approved the US$60 Million grant for the project. He expressed disappointment in the media here for the level of controversy generated over land allocated for the project.

"I am not disappointed in government, but am a little disappointed in the way some media institutions did their reportage about this project concerning the land for the complex," said Amb. Zhao. He said the deal is there and the US$60Million grant will still be given to the Liberian government.

The Ambassador further disclosed that his government has invested US$10Milion in the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) for massive renovation that is expected to be completed next August.

He said when the facilities are completed, Liberia will have new vocational training complex where teachers of the MVTC will have the opportunity to go to China and acquire knowledge, expressing hoping that Liberia remains peaceful and move ahead in its developmental drive.

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