A cross section of the people of Bomi County in the West of Liberia and the operational place of a controversial Mineral development concession named and styled the Western Cluster and Senator Edwin Snowe, the main man at the core of the controversy over the concession deal have agreed to revert to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) against a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which sparked the huge ongoing conflict amongst the leaders and the people.
At the latest session of the USAID-INTERNEWS/Liberia Media Activity funded Community Media forum (CMF) rolled out under the Liberia Media fir Democratic Initiatives (LMDI) People To People (P2P) flagship platform, THE DIALOGUE Bomi County Senator Eldwin Snowe who has been at the core of allegations shady wrong dealings in the negotiations of the Western Cluster Mineral Development Concession sternly disagreed on many fronts including the alleged denial of the implementation of local content especially in the employment of the locals and the contracting of local companies and other businesses of Bomi for the provision of services to the Western Cluster, but finally settled down to reversion to the MDA over the MOU.
First, Ambullah Mamey, a U.S. based Western region of Liberia interested citizen and panelist deciphered the difference between the preferred Mineral Development agreement (MDA) and the highly conflicted Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), claiming that the MOU was crafted to the disadvantage of the people of Bomi County and the entire Western Region of Liberia.
Mamey alleged that MOU unilaterally sets up the stage for the blanket granting of what he calls a class-A operational license to the Western Cluster without the required measured obligations of the concession, such as stipulations for local content, environmental considerations, county and community development and germane education and capacity building for locals in readiness for future creation preparedness.
Ambullah called for a suspension of the operation of the Western Cluster Concession to allow for a review and revision of the deal, saying the company has cleverly bypassed the procedures to the proper and legal acquisition of Class-A license to operate a mineral development agreement and a concession in Liberia.
In sheer approval of the claims of Ambullah Mamey, Bomi County Civil Society Chairman, Omasco Z. Kamara claimed that the current MOU being used as permit for the operation of the Western Cluster is at the disadvantage of the Bomi people in particular and the people of the entire Western region, inclusive of Bomi, Cape Mount and Gbarpolu. Mr. Kamara accused Senator Edwin Snowe of ignoring the concerns and plight of the people of Bomi in the negotiations leading to the acceptance of the use of the MOU.
The local Government administration led by acting County Superintendent Jumah Goll argued that the people of Bomi influenced by politicians if the county were demanding too much from the Western Cluster in the face of the destruction of facilities like the rail road and machinery left behind by the Liberian Mining Company (LMC); a subsidiary of Republic Steel Corporation), which closed down mining operations in the late 1970s.
Goll narrated that the destruction of the rail road from the former LMC now taken over by the Western Cluster Limited (WCL), a subsidiary of Vedanta Limited was the main challenge to the Western Custer investment in Western Liberia. He claimed that the destruction the former LMC was carried out by the people of Bomi in outright disregard for today’s needed investment for the growth and development of the entire Western in general and Bomi in particular.
He said people dug out the rail road steels and other valuables, sold them as scraps and then issued rights to squatters to inhabit the rail road especially the areas near Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. “All these are hampering our position and stance to negotiate as leaders of the county and country”. Said Jumah Goll, Bomi Acting Superintendent.
The acting Bomi Superintendent rejected calls for the suspension of the operation of the Western Cluster concession on contention that such will set back gains made in having the concession tp agree to invest in Bomi County.
For the Western Cluster Concession, former Bomi Superintendent Samuel Brown, now the government relations manager at the company told the gathering that the Western Cluster Concession was willing to do what the Bomi people want and will decide. To the question of whether the company is willing to revert to the MDA over the MOU, Browne responded with a resounding yes.
For Senator Melvin Snowe, all due diligence was done even before his election and participation in the negotiations that led to the acceptance of the use of the MOU, he says was only made controversial and conflicting by power seeking former political leaders who are bent on using the situation for their return to power.
Snowe said he had worked hard to ensure that Bomi got an investment for reawakening the county after a long of investment inactivity. He told the gathering that continuous agitation against the Western Cluster in the absence of what he called uninformed reasoning may lead to driving out a good investment needed for the Bomi and the revival from the shackles of past failed concessions such as the Liberia Mining Company (LMC). He also rejected calls for the suspension of the Western Cluster concession.