Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Renewed Promise: Arcelor Mittal’s New Boss Reaffirms Company’s Renewed Vigor

Source: http://www.frontpageafrica.com/newsmanager/anmviewer.asp?a=11114&z=3

07/07/2010 - By: Nat Bayjay, (231)77 402737 & Jetee J. Tarr, Student-Intern (231) 5 479629

Monrovia -

Faced with public anxiety and huge expectations about its operations in a country that is in need of industrial redemption as Liberia struggles to get back on its feet, ArcelorMittal Liberia has unveiled its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who seems very poised to make the company’s dream a reality key among which is the shipment of its first iron ores in a year’s time.

Coming from a professional mining engineer background, Rajesh Goel who now replaces Joseph Matthews told a rather interactive news conference in Monrovia that his appointment sends strong signal of his company’s commitment to the signed Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) with the Liberian Government about five years ago.

Rajesh Goel who now replaces Joseph Matthews told a rather interactive news conference in Monrovia that his appointment sends strong signal of his company’s commitment to the signed Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) with the Liberian Government about five years ago.

“My journey here (as CEO) is a very strong signal that we are ready........”, the new CEO said as he provided assurance of some major changes that he would be embarking upon immediately to reach the company’s 2011 shipment target .

ArcelorMittal, the first major foreign investor in post-war Liberia announced the successful conclusion of the review of the MDA signed in 2005 in December 2006 in a landmark agreement of over US$ 1.5 billion that is being dropped into the country’s investment.

The company began operations in Liberia against a background of high expectations about attracting foreign investment to boost the country's drive towards recovery and development. However, the harsh global economic situation did not spare the company’s operation, compelling it to scale down its operations last year that affected some of its Liberian and foreign staffs that were redundant.

During the news conference at its Sinkor Headquarters Tuesday, Goel who disclosed that he in Liberia was during the signing of the 2005 MDA reaffirmed that the company’s scheduled 2011 shipment will go as planned and the company will be hoping to increase its employment.

Said Goel: “By June of next year, the track (railway) will be completed and we will begin the shipment of ores”.

Fast-Tracking Liberia’s Project

Of all its global projects that got retarded due to last year’s financial crisis, the Liberian project of ArcelorMittal will be fast tracked, Goel sounded in a confident statement that is expected to come more as a relief to the employment-thirsty people mainly in the three counties where the company is operational.

CEO Goel: “Liberia’s project is one of the few projects that are being fast-tracked despite the financial crisis”.

According to the MDA, the company will be actively functional in Grand Bassa and Nimba Counties but Bong County adds to the benefitting counties as the 260 kilometers of the company’s inherited railway runs through the central county.

“Liberia’s project is one of the few projects that are being fast-tracked despite the financial crisis”, he assured.

Already, the over 200 kilometers of abandoned railroad that links Yekepa in Nimba County where the mines are located to the Port City of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County is undergoing its second phase of rehabilitation, paving the way for the employment of hundreds of Liberians.

Currently, an annual social contribution of US$ 3.0 million intended for the benefit of communities in the three counties through a dedicated committee comprising of the company and the Government is being provided by ArcelorMittal out of which US$1.5 million goes to Nimba, US$1 million goes to Grand Bassa while Bong County receives US$500,000.

The new CEO stated that some of the former expatriates that helped with the rehabilitation of the railroad’s first phase have since returned and have been at the center of the railroad’s finishing touches ahead of next year’s shipment.

The rehabilitation of the railroad, according to the CEO, has helped in improving the living conditions of residents that live along the railroad with the construction of toilets, schools and other health and sanitation facilities for residents whose villages and towns or huts and houses were tempered with during the rehabilitation works.

Marcus Wleh, responsible for the company’s Social Responsibilities Program, further buttressed the CEO’s explanation of residents’ benefits by adding, “We ensured that we compensated for cash crops by contacting the Agriculture Ministry for the global prices of such trees and compensated for houses that were constructed near the railroad on the basis of cost of construction provided by the Ministry of Public Works. In fact, what we did was to even compensate those who built very close to the railroad within the past one year instead of the convectional 20 to 10 years rules laid down for compensation”.

The company’s current work-strength of about 450 personnel in addition to hundreds more that are indirectly employed via means of sub-contractual agreements will be stepped up to about 1,500 personnel, the Human Resource Manager, Vida Mensah who also attended the press briefing disclosed.

Mr. Goel also revealed the company’s intention of a vocational institute for its technical staffs

Vocational Institute ‘Very Soon’

Among the many contents of the rich package unveiled by the mining-expert CEO is the future establishment of a vocational training by the company, something he said is one of his priorities.

Goel said: “We will establish a vocational training institute very soon that will train Liberians”.

He however clarified that the trainings will strictly be operational trainings and not necessarily constructional and it will enable trained Liberians to operate heavy duty mechanical equipments.

With the taking over of the company’s new CEO and the renewed assurances that go along with it, the anxiety and doubts surrounding the company’s ability to actually begin full scale operations thereby helping to alleviate the plight of the huge unemployed Liberian populace come June of 2011 have only been increased.

Marcus Wleh, head of Social Responsibility, was on hand to explain the company’s Social Development Program & its impact on beneficiaries

The MDA signed in 2005 between the company and the government outlines that, among other things, ArcelorMittal shall:

Provide the Government with financial reports on the quantity of iron ore produced and sold every calendar quarter, and report on all operations and activities at the end of the each financial year; Construct, maintain and operate health facilities in the Concession Area with modern equipment and with procedures with accepted international standards; Provide training for Liberian citizens for skilled, technical, administrative and managerial positions; Provide an annual social contribution of US$ 3.0 million to be managed and disbursed for the benefit of communities in the counties of Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa by a dedicated committee comprised of the company and the Government; Conduct its operations in accordance with the environmental protection and management law of the Republic and undertake regular environmental audit and assessment;

News Headline

Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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