KOKOYAH, BONG CO.: Citizens of Kokoyah Statutory District in Bong County, Central Liberia is said to be very unhappy with the operations of the Turkey Mining company, MNG in that part of the country.
In 2015, MNG has been mining gold in Liberia and Burkina Faso but a number of concerns surrounding the company’s operations as regards social development contribution to the area of operations in Kokoyah, particularly in David Dean town.
At a Town Hall meeting of President George Manneh Weah in Kokoyah, District No.1 in Bong County, the citizens of the district called on the President to revisit MNG concession because, according to the citizens’ petition they are not benefiting from any social development funds of the company.
In a three-page petition presented to President Weah by the citizens, the petitioners complained to President that despite their natural resources including gold being exploited out of their county, they are yet to benefit directly through social development fund from MNG.
The citizens through their petition also want the land rental fees paid by MNG Gold Liberia Incorporated to be paid directly to them as well as rehabilitation of damaged bridges in the district. The citizens also named good health care facilities, provisions of safe drinking water, development of farmer to marker road and the empowerment of women and youth among others.
Responding to citizens called to grant amnesty to youth who were arrested for their alleged violence in MNG Gold concession area, President Weah cautioned parents or guidance of their children to warned them (youths) against violence. The President asserted that violence is not good and he will not support violence, saying lawlessness is heathier for Liberia after a prolong period of bitter civil conflict.
Addressing citizens’ concerns at a Town Hall meeting in David Dean’s town in Kokoyah Saturday, February 13, 2021, President Weah civil liberty is very important for all and as such, peaceful resolution and dialogue is way forward in addressing their plight.
He said burning down a police station is also burning the country, because according to the President, the police represents the country, and anyone found involved in such act of violence, with face the law.
He encouraged the citizenry not engage in violence, adding “tell your children what they doing is wrong”, thus making reference to his recent incident with the Police in Paris, when his son, George Weah Jr. (Champ) violated that country curfew regulation. He narrated that his 33-year old George Weah Jr. he from few questions posted to his son, he told Champ why you violated the country’s curfew law?
However, in the last quarter of 2018, over 55 people predominate youth from David Dean town commonly known as “Gold Camp” and Sayeweh Town in Kokoyah were arrested by the officers of the Liberia National Police, Bong County Detachment for their alleged involvement in vandalizing the facilities MNG Gold Liberia for prosecution.
It all happened when a vehicle hired by MNG on November 5, 2021 was involved in a tragic motor accident that resulted into the death of four persons near Sayeweh Town in Kokoyah District. The driver of the company’s vehicle reportedly escaped the scene for the apparent fear of being attacked as residents, who were already frustrated with the company’s operations, allegedly set the Toyota land cruiser four-door pickup ablaze.
Angry residents, according to reports, allegedly destroyed facilities of MNG-Gold, and a high school built by the company for the citizens, minutes after the hired land cruiser Toyota Pickup killed four residents of the town. The school is being built by MNG-Gold as part of its corporate social responsibility as enshrined in the Mineral Development Agreement signed between the government and the company.
The Bong County Police said at that time, that the suspects, though having been rounded up, are yet to be formally charged, while some of them are helping with an ongoing investigation.
The Bong Police added that the arrests from the Gold Camp and Sayeweh Town does not in any way suggest that they are responsible for vandalizing the company’s facilities, while many others were invited for questioning.
On several occasions, residents of Sayeweh Town and surrounding villages affected by the operations of MNG-Gold have been complaining of the company’s failure to improve their impoverished lives.
Residents have persistently expressed frustration with the company’s handling of chemical waste from its gold mining operations, which allegedly spilled into nearby waterways. The management admitted following the riots that cyanide (chemicals) from its plant affected creeks that serve as sources of water for those in Sayeweh Town.
Interestingly, residents of the area filed a US$285 million action of damage for wrong against MNG-Gold at the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Gbarnga City but up to the time President’s weekend Town Hall meeting with citizens, there were no reports of the court ruling into the chemical spilled case.
It was also reported that 19 school-going kids were vomiting blood as a result of the company’s waste site which was constructed near the school campus. The vomiting incident led to the school administrations immediately closure of the school to the public until the situation could be addressed.
The citizens’ anger further heightened when thirty persons were admitted at the Phebe Hospital for exposure to a chemical spill-over from MNG-Gold reservoir in Bong County. The Citizens said incident took place on Friday, September 29, at one of the mining sites of MNG-Gold in Sayeweta Kokoyah Statutory District after a heavy downpour of rain. Some of the chemical victims who spoke to journalists at the time complained of stomach ache, skin rash, multiple body pain and constant vomiting and other strange symptoms.
MNG took over from the American-Liberian Mining Company (Amlib) in 2013 following a mutual agreement between the two companies. An executive of MNG-Gold told journalists that the accident occurred after a reservoir facility containing a diluted chemical overflowed with rainwater and later spilled over into a nearby creek in Sayeweta. The company’s executive added after the incident, MNG-Gold took the affected residents to a nearby clinic in the district and later forwarded them to the Phebe Hospital for further examination. A team from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy who visited the affected town and collected several samples from the contaminated creek and took them to Monrovia.