The condition of Bong Mines is still in a sorry state despite China Union's declared readiness to begin the first shipment of iron ore from there in six months.Analysts and residents are puzzled over the actual realization of the company's dream to export iron ore in December in the face of huge tasks that are expected to be carried out before export takes place.For instance, one analyst pointed out that the company, which replaces Bong Mines Company that abandoned the country during the civil war, needs to refurbish the vast stretch of the railway that was damaged by the war.
There are reports that basic mining infrastructure and heavy machinery have not been installed in Bong Mines for the implementation of the US$2.8 million mining agreement between government and China Union.The 20-mile highway linking Bong Mines with Kakata is in disrepair and needs rehabilitation, while the only hospital in Bong Mines, also serving inhabitants of the entire Fuamah District lacks essential drugs.
The lack of instructional materials and qualified teachers is also intrinsic for the district school system.Land and Mines Minister Patrick Sendolo told New Democrat recently that iron ore shipment from Bong Mines would help government to generate revenues and bring development to inhabitants in Fuamah District.
According to our reporter, who just returned from the area, many social development obligations remain unattended to by China Union as camps damaged during the war still remain in ruin.Bong Town that accommodated staff employees in prewar times remains virtually swallowed by bushes, making the area a den for snakes and rodents.Answering questions from our reporter regarding China Union's social development obligations to the local population, Mr. Sendolo asserted: "I think you are right because there are lots of social obligations on the ground that have to be addressed." He added, "It is a question of how can we move on the one hand to ensure that the concessionaire (China Union) is moving along; and on the other hand, ensure that the government is benefiting so that revenues are coming in, and in that way, we will be in a better position to address the social needs of the people.
"Evidence on the ground demands that more work is needed to pave the way for the beginning of mining activities at Bong Mines. The railway to Monrovia is in disrepair, and heavy-duty equipment for various plants needed to process iron ore before shipment are not yet in place. Recently, angry youths booed Fuamah District Rep. Corpu G. Barlcay and the chair of the Bong County legislative caucus, Rep. George Mulbah, accusing the duo of betraying the interest of the people of Fuamah District where China Union Company operates at the former Bong Mines.
The protesters blocked the main entrance of the Company, accusing lawmakers of failing to articulate the views and aspirations of Fuamah District residents.But Rep. Mulbah denied the accusation and described the demonstrators as agent provocateurs. Both lawmakers were jeered and condemned, as they attempted to calm the angry youths who demanded that the company improve the living conditions of its workers, as well as implement specific components of the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) that the company signed with the Government in 2010.