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Editorial: The Scrap Menace: Harming or Doing Good?

Just recently, the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Dr. Eugene Shannon was heard on a number of radio stations in Monrovia, warning against unscrupulous scraping in the concession area of Bong Mines in Bong County.

Minister Shannon’s warning may have been against the backdrop of the high level of destruction being done to what remains of Bong Mines, including the rails as China Union takes over for operations.

Probably because the Liberian Government is in need of revenues to support its annual budget, that’s why it gives licenses, through the same-old Lands, Mines and Energy Ministry,  to every “Tom, Dick and Harry” to do scrap business in Liberia without being cognizant of the harm they do to the country.

Other than taking away the rails what remains of the former BMC, these criminals operating under the guise of individuals in scrap business continue to vandalize, on a daily basis, keys components of bridges and other important infrastructure to the detriment of our own growth and development as a nation.

We consider the Minister’s latest pronouncement not only as lip service to the President, but a complete disservice to the people of Liberia.

What’s more puzzling is the connivance of not only a few of the officials at the ministries and agencies responsible for this activity, but county superintendents and other local officials, with the so-called business people, only because of personal royalties and other interests.

Whether the scrap business is doing well in terms of helping the process of national reconstruction and development or even buttressing our revenue-generating efforts substantially, no one knows what’s going on. All that we see in Monrovia and other places in our country, vandalizing or destruction of our infrastructure.

It goes back to the days of our intermittent civil crisis when criminals and looters, under the guise of “freedom fighters, liberators or   refugees forcing their way back home from exile” invaded the same Bong Mines, LAMCO-Yekepa and other concession areas in the county and dug up copper wires from various pavements. Including streets and also vandalized and took away company assets to either Guinea or Cote d’voire for sale.

That was then (a lawless situation we had), but at a time when total care should be exercised in determining who does what and how in the scrap business, the economic interest of a few officials of government are taking precedence over our national interest.

For us and the thousands and thousands of Liberians in Bong Mines, Yekepa and surrounding communities, as well as other places in Monrovia, Rural Montserrado, Cape Palmas, Sinoe, Western Liberia, etec., etc, there is no second home as the United States, Ghana or Cote d’Ivoire, but mama Liberia.

“They don’t care because, at the end of the day, they are gone when there is crack in the middle, and when we are at ease, they’re back, and to be where they are again to continue undermining our security and development.”

To harbor the belief that these officials are not fully knowledgeable about the criminal behavior of these scrap business people, it would be very foolhardy on the part of any well-meaning Liberian.

Perhaps for the President not to be knowledgeable and get angry about their connivance and “dirty” deeds, they would always take pre-emptive actions by alarming “wolf” on the radio and newspapers. But the actual fact is that they adequately protect these criminals.

This is why; Madam President must always counter-check most of the information given her by these officials, even though she may have explicit confidence in them because of relationship or long-time friendship. Whenever she’s told by these officials that “it is raining outside, she must make sure by also looking outdoor.”

The President of Liberia must understand that it is in her name that the people of Liberia will always cry whenever there are inadequacies and other problems in the country or whenever her officials act incompatible with the people’s interest. Therefore, she must not allow personal interest (friendship/relationship) to supersede her interest (the interest of the major) as a leader.

For us and the ordinary Liberians, the scrap business in Liberia presently, is doing more harm than good. It must stop or be carefully monitored, with a very harsh punishment foranyone who undermines our security and development by vandalizing and destroying our bridges and other infrastructure.

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