Observers Say: Gov’t To Be Blamed For Bea Mountain’s Tension

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Observers closely following the unfolding at Bea Mountain Mining Company say the Government of Liberia (GOL) is to be blamed for the current crisis at the company, because the Ministry of Labor has failed to ensure that it does not grant work permit to foreign nationals for jobs that Liberians are qualified to do.

   The granting of work permit to Turkish nationals to provide security and carry out painting of the company’s compound and other jobs that do not require expatriates has fuelled the tension at the concession area, thus causing the citizens to stand up for their rights and demand that the company do the right thing.

   However, the employees seem not to be taking into consideration that the foreigners would not have gotten those jobs if the government, through the Ministry of Labor, did not grant them work permit.

   According to observers who spoke to the Hot Pepper on the basis of anonymity for fear that they might lose their jobs, the government stands accused because, firstly, it failed to bring local citizens on board during the discussion for a possible mineral development agreement, where it could have told them what the responsibility of the company is in the concession area.

   In addition to the claim of lack of employment to positions squarely reserved for Liberians, the Liberian protesters are also demanding that citizens of 50 years and above be put on a US$100 monthly allowance because they have been the custodians of the mineral, which the company is now mining. They are also demanding electrification of their homes as part of their benefits, among other things.

    However, observers are saying that, even though there are some legitimacy in their requests, the construction of road network and the electrification of private homes are the responsibility of the government and not the company, but because the government has refused to come clean to its citizens and enforce the Liberianization aspect of these MDA, this has helped to fuel tension at the concession.

   “According to most of these MDAs, where Liberians are not qualified to take up certain managerial positions, the company from the start is given certain number of years to train Liberians to take over. The enforcement of this aspect of the MDA rests squarely with the Ministry of Labor,” the observers emphasized.

   They noted that, instead of protecting the interest of the Liberian employees, the Labor Ministry is bent on issuing work permits to foreign individuals for jobs that Liberians can do; as such, the company cannot be blamed for the misfortune at the concession area. 

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