Residents of Gbapa have reassured ArcelorMittal Liberia of their commitment to a peaceful approach to issues without any obstruction to the company’s operation.
The residents, represented by their opinion and traditional leaders, made the commitment in a formal communication addressed to the company.
In a letter signed by Town Chief Belleh Gbarto, Women’s head Rebecca Yarzue, Youth Chairman Ferllington Weanquoi, and Poro Chairman Fredrick Messah, the people of Gbapa distanced themselves from speculations that they were planning to protest against the company’s operation in Nimba.
“We the youths, elders, women and chiefs of the aforesaid address wish to use this medium to sincerely apologize for the information from Quee Weanquoi, a son of Gbapa, that our mothers are planning a traditional action to jeopardize ArcelorMittal’s operation because the poro master had failed to get the affected farmers’ benefits from AML,” the letter read.
The residents of Gbapa earlier this year made a commitment in the presence of Internal Affairs Minister, Varney Sirleaf, to never use violent means to seek redress, but that they would remain peaceful and continue to dialogue on issues. The relationship between AML and the local community has remained cordial.
Recently, the company provided an additional US$35,000 for the clinic project in Gbapa, amounting to a total donation of US$85,000 in contribution to construct a clinic in the town.
Delivering the communication at AML’s main office in Yekepa on behalf of Gbapa were five persons, including a female, Rebecca Yarzue. They, in separate remarks, emphasized that Weanquoi’s speculation does not represent them, as it is false and misleading.
“Weanquoi’s statement is a lie. We did not have any such meeting, bringing 590 women of the Sande Society together to protest against ArcelorMittal. The women say we should beg you; he is damaging the character of the people of the town,” Yarzue said.
In addition to the content of the letter and views shared by the delegation, Fredrick Messah, Poro Chairman of Yarmein Administrative District, also reiterated through a telephone call that the people of Gbapa remain committed to their promise to do away with violence and continuously dialogue.
According to Messah, their poro master and zoes are there to support the enforcement of community order and social control, and not to promote violence.
Responding to their position statement, AML Community Relations Manager, Vaanii Kiazolu, said the company values the partnership it has with the people of Gbapa. He said Gbapa has demonstrated its commitment to peaceful coexistence. Speaking earlier, Edmond Gbah, Community Relations Supervisor, who also hails from Gbapa, said he was happy that people of the community are celebrating the benefits of the cordial relationship between them and ArcelorMittal.