Frustrated with “Horrible” Rail Theft, ArcelorMittal Liberia Pleads for Intervention

ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML), the foremost private sector investor, faces mounting frustration due to the persistent theft of rail plates along the Yekepa-Buchanan railroad.

The company has seen relentless attacks by unidentified individuals, resulting in frequent train derailments.

These derailments have at many times crippled the transportation of ore and essential logistics for weeks, depriving the government of vital revenue.

It is believed that people living along the rail covertly remove rail plates at night, selling them for 500LD each, a situation which has recently exacerbated things.

Marcus Wleh, AML’s Head of Sustainability and External Relations, expressed deep frustration during a recent media engagement in Ganta, NIMBA County.

He implored the media to aid in preventing this widespread problem, emphasizing that the rail infrastructure belongs to the government, not ArcelorMittal.

Wleh stressed that as a government asset, the responsibility to protect the rail lies with Liberians.

He cautioned against destroying government property, and highlighted the embarrassment caused by the deteriorating railway situation.

He pointed out, “When the train falls, it’s dismissed as a billion-dollar company. If it were to fall and damage a whole town, it would be the company’s responsibility.”

With many previous reports that acknowledged the involvement of unidentified men in the removal of rail plates, Mr Walsh questioned, “You want to tell me we have gone that low, damaging government property?”

He said AMl is grateful for the government’s awareness of the situation and commended its efforts to find a lasting solution.

However, he emphasized the gravity of the situation, lamenting further, “How much do you sell a rail plate for? I am told it’s sold at 500LD. And you go and damage millions of dollars of property just for 500LD?”

Wleh underscored the interconnectedness of AML’s operations with government revenue generation and poverty reduction.

He urged communities to grasp the importance of protecting the company’s investment, as AML pays social development fees which is crucial for various projects in districts and towns.

“Our communities have to understand that if the company does not produce iron ore and transport it, the government cannot get revenue.

The government makes revenue forecasts, and if it does not realize all its projections, these are some of the reasons,” Wleh explained.

He implored the press to take up the challenge, using banner headlines to discourage railway damage and stressing, “The railway is not scrap. Take it as a social responsibility.”

ArcelorMittal’s operations, particularly in the production and transportation of iron ore, play a vital role in contributing to the government’s revenue.

The revenue generated by the company, through taxes, fees, and other financial contributions, contributes to the overall economic health of the nation.

This income, in turn, supports various government initiatives, including social development projects aimed at poverty reduction.

Undoubtedly, ArcelorMittal’s operations have a direct impact on the economic well-being of Liberia.

If the company continues to face challenges such as rail theft, which disrupts its ability to transport ore efficiently, it not only affects the company but also hampers the government’s revenue collection.

This, in consequence, can impede the government’s capacity to fund poverty reduction programs and other essential projects in communities.

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