A New Dawn’s investigation has unearthed a child labor syndicate, involving the former project manager of ex-CBL governor Dr. Mills Jones. Mr. Christopher K. Duncan, who subsequently parted company with now presidential hopeful Dr. Jones, owns and operates a gold mine in Boy’s Town, Montserrado County.
Our reporter, who visited the mines, saw dozens of children between ages 13 and 15, working there as contractors. The minors were busy washing gravel in makeshift washing pans with elements attached to provide access to water pumps coming directly from a nearby river. This paper also discovered that most of the underage children came from various communities in Montserrado, including New Kru Town, West Point, Paynesville, and Mount Barclay, respectively.
They lack safety gears, boots, hand gloves, and eyes protectors, among others. Some of them narrated that they were allegedly hired by Mr. Duncan to work on the mines through his brother, only identified as Saykajeporc.
Our investigation further established that most of the activities there involve undermining (digging under the dirt to find gold) which in most instances, could cause disaster, particularly landslide.
Kids on the mines are responsible to transport dirt from one end to the other in wheelbarrow under strenuous conditions. Some of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they earn a weekly compensation of US$30.00 under the supervision of Field Manager only described as Mr. Nelson.
Unlike at other mining sites around the country where government agents are posted to monitor operation, not a single agent was seen at the Duncan’s gold mines, which contravenes the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy’s regulation against use of underage children in the mining industry.
When this paper contacted Mr. Duncan thru his Field Manager only identified as Nelson, Duncan inquired what this reporter was doing on his (Duncan’s) property. According to him, nowhere in Liberia that one can see safety, so what was wrong with him not providing safety gears for his employees.
“You see, this is why some of us Liberians can die poor because of the way we do things”, he blasted on the phone, saying “You can go and write anything you wish to write about me.”
However, minutes later, he called and this time around, ordered his Field Manager Nelson to immediately ensure that this reporter immediately vacates the mining site.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne