Authorities of Bong County have concluded a two-day retreat with concession companies and other renowned institutions operating in the county. At the end of the retreat, Bong County Superintendent Selena Polson-Mappay said the retreat was intended to discuss the activities of the concession companies, including constraints they encounter.
Mappay noted that the operations of some of the companies have been characterized by a number of controversial issues, suggesting that it was important to sit and discuss with them the way forward for understanding of the county’s citizens and authorities.
The Bong County Superintendent expressed the belief that the retreat also provided an understanding to the county’s lawmakers in attendance because, according to her, it is “their responsibility to sign contractual agreement with companies coming to the country”. Only five of the nine Legislators were present at the forum.
Concession companies, including Jonah Capital made power-point presentation on their activities, as well as what to do as social benefits for the people of their respective operational areas in the county.
Mineral exploration company, Amlib Mineral received lashes from members of the Bong Legislative Caucus, as well as ordinary citizens who participated in the retreat for not providing information needed by them on their operations.
The two representatives of the company attending the forum could not provide adequate information to the participants because, according to them, they were not “on top of information”, as they were new employees. ‘Things fell apart” when they disclosed to the participants that the company was now split into two-Amlib Ore and Amlib Gold.
The company, which has been exploring for gold since 2001, is yet to make its discovery of gold in operational area clear, but disclosed the discovery of Iron Ores when asked by citizens of Kokoyah District last year to leave or their assets be seized. The company, reportedly linked to the Liberian Presidency, is yet to repair the road leading to its concession area.
Representatives of another company-BHP Billiton also made it clear that they were not pulling out of the county as speculated by the representative of District Number Four, Hon. Lester Paye, noting that equipment currently being moved in Panta District were actually in transit to other operational areas of the company in other parts of the country.
They informed the forum about the construction and rehabilitation of roads and hand pumps by BHP Billiton as social obligations to the communities in areas they operate.
Several recommendations from stakeholders were advanced, including one by the companies that they be properly introduced to local authorities. They complained of being accused of disrespecting local authorities, despite obtaining licenses, as well as working with the Office of the superintendent.
The retreat also brought together other essential institutions in the county, including Phebe Hospital, Cuttington University, as well as Central Agriculture Research Institute or CARI, among others.