17 November 2017

Liberia: Nimba Supt. Clarifies Controversial Scrap Metal Deal

Nimba County Superintendent Dorr Cooper has explained to citizens of Nimba the metal scrap deal between Sethi Ferro Fabrik, Incorporated and the county administration.

During a one day meeting with stakeholders in Sanniquellie, Cooper informed citizens that the agreement was based on a letter received from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf requesting that the county give a portion of the scrap metal in Yekepa to Sethi, as the company has built a mini steel factory in Liberia and needed the scrap to manufacture steel products.

Supt. Cooper added that upon receipt of the President's letter, county officials including the caucus met with the President and finalized that 85 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the scrap metal will go to the county while the balance 15 percent will go to the national government for development.

Cooper further explained that the proceeds will be deposited into an escrow account before being transferred to the county.

Tension has been mounting in the county recently over the movement of the scrap after Supt. Cooper pledged his support to the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change.

His former partisans of the ruling Unity Party accused him of using the scrap money to support the CDC in the presidential runoff, but at the meeting, Supt. Cooper explained that the money was not coming directly into the county's account as speculated.

He made it clear that the county had constituted a six-man committee, headed by GSA Nimba Coordinator Peter Queikeh along with representatives of youth, women and other groups to monitor the weighing of the scrap in Sanniquellie.

"The process of weighing the scrap is transparent because the first thing we do every morning when we get there is to weigh a bag of cement, which is 50 kg," said Joe Wallace, a religious representative.

Superintendent Cooper also clarified that according to the deal, North Star, the first winner of the bid, will pay US$72 per ton and will be allowed to mine 25,000 tons of scrap, while Sethi will mine 30,000 tons.

"Sethi is taking advantage of the recently passed bill known as the 'Investment Incentive Act' which gives priority to any company that is doing direct investment, like what Sethi is doing," he said.

Stakeholders were further informed that from September 30 to November 13, Sethi Ferro Fabrik mined and dispatched about 100 trucks containing 2,783.547 tons of scrap at US$60 per ton for a total amount of US$167,012.82. The Investment Incentive Act Sethi negotiated a rate of US$60 per ton.

Meanwhile North Star has dispatched 31 trucks with 637.24 tons of scrap for an amount of about US$45,881.28 at the rate of $72 according to its bid offer.

The total amount of money accumulated from the sale of the scrap from September 30 to November 13 is US$212, 894.10.

Some of the stakeholders at the meeting expressed satisfaction with the information provided by the county administration.

"We are satisfied with the first set of information, but need information on any future deal," said P. Luo Lah, a representative of NGO Network in Nimba County.

Another meeting is scheduled for today, November 17, to continue the discussion and finalize issues pertaining to Nimba County's participation in the coming County Meet.

Ishmael F. Menkor

Liberia

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