May 6, 2021

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House Ratifies Liberia-Guinea Railway Agreement Allowing Guinea to Export Ore Via Buchanan Port

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Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The House of Representatives has approved the agreement between Liberia and Guinea, allowing Guinea to transport its iron ore via the port of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County.

The House took the decision in its 28th day Sitting on Tuesday following recommendations from its joint Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resource and Environment and Foreign Affairs.

The Committee in its recommendation said the agreement will benefit both parties and as such it should be ratified.

Following heated deliberations, Rep. Acarous M. Gray (CDC, District #8, Montserrado County) filed a motion, with 20 voting in favor, six against and three abstained.

Reps. Younquoi, Massaquoi Cried Foul

While the agreement sailed through, the process was marred by heated argument on the floor. It all started when Rep. Clarence Massaquoi (District #3, Lofa County) pointed out a clause within the agreement seeking protection for the Guineans as they transport their ore while using the rail from Yekepa to Buchanan. Rep. Massaquoi said despite Liberia being the host nation, it also needs protection in terms of proper benefits from the investment and as such the agreement should be properly scrutinized before passage.

But Rep. Gray differed and said there was no need for Liberia to ask for protection since it is the host country, rather it should be in the position to provide security for the Guineans. He, serving as the movant (He proffered the motion for approval.) also denied series of requests to distribute copies of the agreement among lawmakers for proper scrutiny before it is passed. Rep. Gray and Speaker Bhofal Chambers argued that the agreement has been before the House since 2020 and each lawmaker were served copies.

Rep. Larry Younquoi (CPP, District #8, Nimba County) accused Speaker Chambers of marginalizing him when he was snubbed to filed a motion for reconsideration. Reps. Younquoi and Massaquoi both raised their hands and requested a motion for reconsideration right after the vote, but Speaker Chambers opted to recognized Rep. Ivar Jones (CDC, District #2, Margibi County). Rep. Jones, in what appeared to be a tactic to blocked the opposition lawmakers from challenging major decision taken by majority members in the House, later declined to file his motion on grounds that the decision was in the best interest of the country.

Rep. Massaquoi said the Speaker was in error to deny them since a motion for reconsideration was a privileged motion as per the House’s rules.

Win-Win situation

Meanwhile, the agreement which has been in the pipeline since the administration of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been dubbed by officials of both countries as a win-win situation.

If approved, ore mined from the Guinean side of the Nimba Mountain will be cheaper to export via the Buchanan Port, and in the process, generating revenue for Liberia.

The mine is situated approximately 800km from Guinea’s capital Conakry, and 26km from the existing railway at Tokadeh in Liberia. The cost of developing the mine and building the rail line, which will traverse difficult terrain and virgin rainforest, has been estimated by officials at close to US$20 billion.

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