Senator Simeon Taylor Raises Alarm: Concession Companies Fail to Fulfill Agreements, Robbing Liberians of Just Benefits and Stalling Development

Sen. Simeon Taylor

MONROVIA – The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy and Natural Resources Senator Simeon Taylor has observed that the failure of concession companies operating in the country to live up to Mineral Development Agreements (MDAs) signed with the Government of Liberia is immensely contributing to severe hardship on citizens and the backwardness of the country.

By Obediah Johnson

Senator Taylor is representing the people of Grand Cape Mount in the 55th National Legislature.

He observed that though members of the National Legislature do not execute laws, he will use his constitutional responsibilities of oversight, representation and lawmaking to ensure that concession companies, especially those operating in Grand Cape Mount do not deprive citizens from receiving their fair share or benefits that have been documented in those agreements.

He made these comments when he spoke to citizens of the county at the United People Intellectual Forum in the VOA Community over the week end.

Senator Taylor noted that millions of dollars’ worth of natural resources are being extracted by foreign companies, especially those in the mining sector, but the living conditions of citizens in those areas remain appalling.

He added that roads remain deplorable while citizens lack access to basic social services.

He noted that despite these challenging, members of the county’s legislative caucus have been advocating to ensure that citizens of the county benefit from the operations of concessions.

Senator Taylor disclosed that presently, the road from Lofa Bridge to Mano River is expected to be constructed by Western Cluster.

Senator Taylor said though he was not part of the renegotiation of the concession of Western Cluster, he will ensure that citizens are not robbed of their benefits.

He observed that Western Cluster has allegedly outsourced majority of its operations to other companies due to its limited capacity.

“Concession companies normally don’t live up to their agreements 100% and the lawmakers are not the ones that implement those agreements. Western Cluster has outsourced almost all of their operations. We will use our oversight to checkmate them.”

He observed that though the previous MDA signed with the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf led-government calls for the construction of a railway or seaport within a three-year period, Western Cluster continues to truck iron ore from its operational area to the Freeport of Monrovia.

Senator Taylor said lawmakers hailing from the western region would also work together to ensure that the relevant government ministries and agencies compel concession companies to live up to the agreements signed with the government.

“We as lawmakers from the region, we need to work together. When we are stronger together, companies operating in the region will do the right thing.”

Speaking further, the Grand Cape Mount County lawmaker expressed disappointment over the failure of locals to involve their leaders when holding negotiations with foreign companies operating in their areas.

He said the county remains endowed with numerous natural resources, but it remains backward in terms of development due to the high level of division amongst sons and daughters hailing from the county.

He noted that a brighter future for Grand Cape Mount lies in the unity of its citizens.

“Grand Cape Mount has lots of resources. Even our soil is rich and the land space is large; the future of our county also lies in agriculture and not mining. People made farms for several years and today, they are living from those farms. And so, agriculture is the way.”

Senator Taylor called on leaders from the county to invest in the agriculture sector as part of efforts to provide employment opportunities for their kinsmen back home.

He said investment in agriculture will make Liberians self-productive and help move the country forward in terms of infrastructural and economic growth and development.

Senator Taylor observed that access to road connectivity remains a major problem strangulating the growth and development of the county.

He, however, stressed the need for the provision of stable and affordable electricity to households and commercial centers across the country to help improve Liberia’s struggling economy.

He observed that the cost of electricity in Liberia is high, but citizens should continue to remain calm as government and its partners exert efforts to address the situation.

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