Repeated Rail Theft Hinders Multi-User Arrangement Effort
Two weeks ago, ArcelorMittal Liberia reported yet another derailment resulting from a sabotage a theft of rail fasteners around the Liberian Agriculture Company areas in Wee-Statutory District, Grand Bassa County.
Although there were no injuries or death recorded for the derailment of the locomotive, which was on its way from Yekepa to Buchanan, the persistent issue of rail theft along the Buchanan-Yekepa railway route poses a severe and direct threat to both the Government of Liberia (GOL) and its people.
The government owns the essential transport infrastructure, and the ramification of these thefts ripple through the entire nation, negatively impacting its effort to implement a multi-user arrangement for the rail system, aimed at generating additional income and addressing socio-economic challenges across Liberia.
The Railway Link Between Buchanan and Yekepa, as a national asset, is important to Liberia’s economic and social development. It serves as a lifeline for transportation of ore from which government gets revenues.
The rail is essential, as well provides the opportunity for transportation of essential goods, facilitates trade and enhances connectivity between regions. Furthermore, it plays an important role in the government’s vision to promote inclusivity and address socio-economic disparities by allowing multiple users to leverage this resource for mutual benefit.
However, the unrelenting theft of rail infrastructure and materials not only cripples the railway’s operational integrity, but also imposes significant financial burdens on ArcelorMittal, the operator of the rail, given that for each time a theft occurs the company spends thousands of dollars for repairs while movement of ore and logistics between Buchanan and Yekepa comes to a halt, thereby denying government of needed revenue.
The cost of replacing stolen materials, repairing damaged sections and ensuring the railway’s security divert precious resources that could be better allocated for crucial public services, such as education, healthcare and infrastructure development.
Moreover, the continued disruption caused by rail theft jeopardizes the government’s plan for the multi-user arrangement. This initiative is designed to attract investments, create jobs and stimulate economic growth along the rail corridor.
The revenue generated from this venture would be instrumental in addressing pressing social issues, including poverty alleviation and access to quality education and healthcare for Liberians.
The Government of Liberia (GOL) has to, at this point, demonstrate commitment to ensuring the security and sustainability of the railway corridor.
“We call upon all stakeholders, including local communities, businesses, and law enforcement agencies, to join hands in protecting this vital national asset,” an AML release observed.
“Only through collaborative efforts can we preserve the Buchanan to Yekepa railway’s integrity, realize the potential of the multi-user arrangement and ultimately improve the lives of all Liberians.
“The government and people of Liberia must stand together in the face of these challenges, determined to secure our shared future and promote the well-being of every citizen through economic empowerment and job security,” the release added.