FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

Liberia, Stop Selling Yourself Short - Mining Firms Must Fix, Not Ship Ore On Bad Roads

SINCE THE END of the Liberian civil war Liberia and Liberians have been struggling to move around. Bad roads, inadequate and insufficient means of transportation have put many consumers and commuters in a jam, unable to find reliable means of transportation or roads to get around.

MOST COMMUNITIES lack reliable and consistent means of electricity putting their lives on hold.

BEYOND MONROVIA, residents in most communities, villages, towns and districts live in abject poverty and when darkness falls, they gather around a hut, chant folk songs just to kill the night away before the go to sleep under dark huts, zinc shacks and makeshift homes.

SINCE THE END of the civil war, billions of dollars worth of investment has poured in the country ranging from iron ore, diamonds, gold and most significantly, petroleum.

TODAY, LIBERIA is embarking on a crucial stage, approaching a 2017 elections many see as a make or break elections which could determine whether Liberia will join the likes of Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria which have had successful multiparty democratic elections.

SADLY, LIBERIA remains trapped in the past and probably lacking the will to remove itself from an apparent curse that has befallen the nation, keeping it from moving beyond the evils of this world.

NOW IN RECENT weeks, multiple reports are emerging that some multinational companies including Mittal Steel and Putu range are considering or have sealed deals to ship ore out of Liberia not through railways but by roads.

THE GOVERNMENT has not publicly addressed these concerns and remain mute over what is obviously poised to be another bad decision by the financial rulers of a struggling post-war nation on the mends.

WE ARE ALL however reminded about President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's declaration encouraging private sector investment and admonishing investors to help Liberia reduce poverty when she said: "Government cannot, by itself, achieve the vision for Liberia that is enshrined in our poverty reduction strategy. We need the participation of the private sector - one that will bring in sustainable investment and promote good corporate citizenship."

BOTH MITTAL AND PUTU have expressed their willingness to be responsible and transparent in business practices and investment because it would bring long-term economic and social benefits to an emerging market.

WE ARE THRILLED that both countries are committed to strengthening the country's mining industry and transport system and investing heavily in its social infrastructure, such as schools and health clinics.

THIS IS WHY we feel strongly that these companies should not be transporting ore by roads which are already in bad shape but rather should help our nation develop existing roads and make work to connect many of our communities with good and descend roads that will pass the longevity test.

LIBERIA HAS BEEN devastated by two civil wars between 1989 and 2003 which ruined our economy and infrastructure. While we encourage the investment and those looking to invest here, it is only proper that our government make decisions that will rescue Liberians from poverty by insisting on investments that will improve the lives of Liberians and not wreck those lives. We need investors who will build roads and connect our communities, not those who will add to the wear and tear of our roads by shipping ore.

THERE IS AN old saying that when monkey gets jam, it eats pepper. Liberians are not monkeys and while we are certainly in a jam, we do not have to fall for anything and allow our already dilapidated roads to wear and tear at the expense of investors unwilling to help us address this much-needed dilemma. A hint to the wise...

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