(Partial views left to right) women at CICO two and CICO one main entrances Rehabilitation work along the Red Light-Gbarnga highway, which connects Montserrado, Margibiand Bong into Nimba was disrupted Monday, 2 November following sit-in by over 300 protesting women from Weala and parts adjacent against the Chinese International Construction Company or CICO, implementing the rehabilitation.
CICO is sub-contracted by the Government of Liberia to rehabilitate the road. The women, under the banner “Aggrieved Group of Weala Community” barricaded the two main entrances to the company’s premises in demand of benefits for damages of their houses caused by earth blasting operation carries out by the company on a daily basis.
The women forced the CICO management to pack all of their vehicles and machines inside the fence and prevented any of the equipment and vehicles from leaving the compound. Our reporter who visited the scene, said coal tile and other road materials prepared by the company for its rehabilitation work remained indoors, while the entire road rehabilitation process halted completely.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, 2 November a spokesperson for the protestors identified as Madam Fatu Coleman, said when they initially engaged the company, management allegedly assured them that each of those whose properties were affected from the blast would receive US$40.00 as compensation, something, which she said has been long overdue since last year.
Madam Coleman continued that many times, they had engaged the company to address their plight, but to no avail. She further alleged that the county authorities, including the Environmental Protection Agency have met with the CICO management on this issue, but the company has continuously reneged on its earlier commitment.
She added that at one instant, the management referred them to an insurance company that has been making mockery of them and so they are now tired. After several hours of protest, the CICO management and some Margibi authorities, who went on the scene, convened a meeting between the company and the protestors during the management made a promissory note to address the aggrieved women’s plight as soon as possible.
Copy of the document obtained by this writer states among others that if management failed to adhere to its responsibilities as documented, the company should be summoned by the county authorities. Meanwhile, the safety engineer of CICO Kelvin E. Clarke, who is also accused by some of the women as being the main hindrance to them getting their benefits, openly said from the onset the women dogged the company and went to the county administration.
The county administration, according to Clarke, called the company and the women to a meeting along with the insurance company, ACICO to ensure payment of benefits, adding that the insurance company scheduled a date with the women to pay but whether the date has elapsed or not he did state clearly.
By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi-Edited by Jonathan Browne