Amidst current economic challenges facing global steel giant ArcelorMittal as it relates to falling iron ore prices on the world market, the company’s train transporting ores to the Port of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County burst in flames, leaving several parts destroyed early Thursday morning August 4.
Eyewitnesses told this paper that the train was loaded with iron ore from Yekepa in Nimba County, heading for the Buchanan Port when it suddenly caught fire. The cause or source of the fire is yet to be established, but The NewDawn Nimba Correspondent who visited the scene of the incident near the St. John River where the train suddenly went ablaze before reaching to Yeela Town in Bong County, said it all started between 4:40 and 4:50 A.M. on Thursday, August 4.
The train was reportedly transporting about 110 buckets of ore from Nimba to Grand Bassa County. Out of that number about 16 buckets of ore wasted, while four buckets left on the train track, while the remaining 50 left on the section of the train without fire for Grand Bassa. About 30 buckets were subsequently transported on another train back to Yekepa in Nimba County.
Our correspondent said the accident occurred between track 154 and 155 near the St. John River and Bong County. There was no casualty reported.
Some residents of the area said the incident is the first of its kind in their town. ArcelorMittal signed a 25-year concession agreement with the Government of Liberia to mine and remove ore deposits from Yekepa in Nimba thru the Port of Buchanan in Grand Bassa.
Under the agreement, the company reportedly consented to pay royalties in the amount of US$3 million to affected communities, including Nimba, US$1.5 million; Bong, US$500,000 and Grand Bassa, US$1million, respectively. The company also agreed to undertake the Ganta-Yekepa road project which is being implemented by a Senegalese road construction company, CSC.
Other social programs included in the agreement, are health and educational facilities for the most affected communities in Nimba County, but these are yet to be fulfilled, something that led aggrieved citizens to have staged a violent protest few years ago, destroying company’s assets.
Due to slump in global prices of iron ores, rubber and other commodities, the company has redundant hundreds of employees.
BY Franklin Doloquee, Nimba-Editing by Jonathan Browne