Liberia: To Ease Mass Protest At Concession Site - Bea Mountain Mining Signs an MOU With Citizens of Three Clans in Its Operation

*Company General Manager Reza Karimiyan terms the agreement as a Big Boost

As part of efforts to smooth the relationship between the company and local residents, Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC) on Saturday, May 7, 2022, entered a Memorandum of Understanding with three major Clans in its main operation areas in Golakonneh District, to ease the grievances among citizens of Grand Cape Mount County.

The three benefiting Clans included; Darblo, Laah and Manna which saw major stakeholders including the County's Superintendent Aaron Vincent, Senator Siemon B. Taylor as well as local commissioners, chiefs and elders, women and Youth Groups and eminent citizens converged at the Administrative Building in Tahn Town, the seat of the District to consummate the Agreement through the signatures of the respective parties,(Representatives of the Company, the Clans and Officials of the Liberian government.

Speaking at the signing of the MOU, Internal Affairs Minister Varney A. Sirleaf clarified that the One hundred fifty-thousand United States Dollars US-($150,000) negotiated in the agreement for each Clan is different from the already One-Million United States Dollars in the County Account from the Mineral Development Agreement(MDA).

Minister Sirleaf told the well-attended gathering of citizens of Grand Cape Mount County including Chiefs and Elders that the Amount is not intended to be divided among the citizens but will be used by the affected Clans to undertake meaningful development projects such as the upgrading of schools, health centers, youth and women empowerment among others.

"By this, every citizen including the children will benefit from the money as people will receive treatment from the clinics while good learning environment will be created for our children to learn", the Internal Affairs Minister told the Audience.

The Minister also used the occasion to clarify that 2% of the One hundred fifty-thousand United States Dollars ($US150,000.00) from each Clan will go towards the legal services provided by their lawyer Cllr. Benedict Sarnoh as well as other expenses.

Minister Varney Sirleaf then urged the citizens to comply with the terms and conditions laid out in the MOU and allow the Company to operate smoothly in the County, adding that the constant protests and destruction of the company's facilities could create serious setbacks for the government and People of the Country.

According to the Internal Affairs Minister, the MOU is subject to review and if necessary changes can be made in agreement with the two parties, calling on them to embrace the agreement.

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding(MOU), a five-member committee will be set up in each of the Clan, with three persons to be selected from the Clan and two persons representing the Company that will manage the money as mentioned in the Agreement.

Speaking earlier, the head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee set up by President George M. Weah to look into the grievances of the citizens, Labor Minister Cllr. Charles Gibson reaffirmed the Liberian government's commitment to resolving the citizens'14 count grievances presented to the President. "As a Lawyer, I can safely say that there is no problem that can be resolved 100% but at least with this agreement, we have gone 40% and we as government will continue to work with the Company to resolve the problems, the Labor Minister told the mass gathering of Cape Mountainians.

Minister Gibson who described the MOU as very transparent and a boost to the citizens said all parties including the land representatives from the three Clans, as well as Cllr. Benedict Sarnoh who was hired to represent the interest of the citizens, the Company's Lawyers and Officials of the Liberian government were all represented during the formulation of the agreement as such there was no need for any fear or panic.

Meanwhile, Bea Mountain through its General Manager Mr. Reza Karimiyan and the Community Relations Superintendent Henry Vincent, termed the signing of the MOU by the parties as a landmark achievement and assured that the Company remains fully committed to the implementation of the agreement.

Mr. Kerimiyan and Mr. Vincent said the issue of protest at the company's operation site was causing serious losses to the Company, adding that the Bea Mountain Company will ensure an improved condition of the locals through its Corporate Social responsibility.

At the same time, the citizens have applauded the MOU signed with the Bea Mountain Mining Company but cautioned the Liberian government and the company not to renege in ensuring the implementation of the agreement as well as other issues raised in their 14 counts petition during the protest in January.

It can be recalled in early January this year, group of aggrieved citizens staged a violent demonstration for several days at the Company's operation site, accusing the company of unfair labor practices, and jobs intended for citizens given to Turkish National among others.

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