For Breaching Concession MOU, Senate Committee Wants Western Cluster Refund 14.5 million Wavier

By: Laymah Kollie

Monrovia-March 5,2024-: The Liberian Senate’s Committee on Concessions and Investigation, Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works & Rural Development is carving the indulgence of plenary to mandate Western Cluster in paying the US$14.5million waiver granted to the company in its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

According to the Chairperson on the Committee, Senator Numene T.H. Bartekwa of Grand Kru County, the Company has failed to execute the purpose of the Government of Liberia waiver to WCL as such, they should refund the money to government’s revenue.

Giving report on an investigation done by the committee on Tuesday in Senate 15th sitting, Senator Bartekwa told Plenary that the government waiver was intended to strengthen WCL in meeting the needs of the inhabitants in the area, of which , they have failed to implement as a company.

Stressed that the money be paid into Government’s Account so as to address some of the major needs of citizens.

“In consequence of the thorough investigation done by the Joint Committee in order to have an in depth understanding of the situation at hand, the Joint Committee is pleased to present the following recommendations:
That WCL be made to pay back the 14.5 million USD that was waived by GOL during the negotiation process of the MOU that paved the way for the return of WCL 2 years ago. This recommendation is based on the fact that WCL has failed to provide recommended services to the people of Liberia, for which Government effected waiver as incentive and encouragement for WCL to improve the lives of the affected counties” Senator Bartekwa said.

Other recommendations placed on the floor were:

2. That the Ministry of Public Works be requested to review the road access permit that allows WCL to use the Bomi to Monrovia highway for the conveyance of its ore to the Port of Monrovia, ensure Western Cluster Liberia lives up to its commitment on road maintenance and road safety on the Bomi to Monrovia Highway and the implementation of other road projects in its concessions areas, or other areas in Western Liberia as agreed upon, 3. That the Inter-ministerial Mineral Concession Committee (IMCC) be mandated to review the Mineral Development Agreement executed between the Government of Liberia and Wester Cluster Liberia, 4. That WCL be made to pay the three years (2022-2024) social development fund (SDF) due the affected counties..

Adding, 5. That the Ministry of Labour be requested to ensure as much as possible, that the company employs directly all the people working in its operations in order to accord them all employment benefits, and 6. That the National Bureau of Concessions and the Ministry of Mines and Energy be requested to audit the activities of the WCL to determine compliance with the term of the MDA.


On January 31, 2024, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate mandated its Joint Committee on
Concessions and Investment, Lands, mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works and Rural Development to probe into a complaint filed to it by Mrs. Daba Mabande Varpilah, Senator, Grand Cape Mount County on the failure of Western Cluster Ltd. to adhere to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed between the Company and the Government of the Republic of Liberia.

The Joint Committee, through its Chairperson (Senator Numene T.H. Bartekwa) invited the Western Cluster Management to appear before the Joint Committee on February 9, 2024, to address concerns raised against the company regarding its persistent violation of the MDA. On the said date, the Joint Committee along with senators of the Affected Counties (Bomi, Gbarpolu, Cape Mount) met with the Management of Western Cluster Ltd. @ 11am, in the Conference Room of the Liberian Senate.

In separate remarks from Senator Daba Mabande Varpilah and Senator Simeon B. Taylor both of Grand Cape Mount County, stated that WCL is in constant violation of the MDA.

According to Senator Varpilah, her complaint to the Liberian Senate was necessitated by the continuous gross violation of the MDA by WCL. Senator Taylor for his part in no small measure highlighted to the committee that WCL has no good intention for Liberia as the company is in the constant habit of lying every time the management appears before Liberian authority. He outlined that on numerous occasions WCL has made commitments that they have not lived up to. In his words, he stressed out that the Head of Operations of WCL, Mr. Chetan Savant has breached all of the provisions of the MDA to include the following: Job provision, road rehabilitation and pavement, scholarship fund, Social Development Fund and a lot more.

Similarly, Senator Edwin M. Snowe and Senator Alex Tyler both of Bomi County could not hold back their feelings in lashing out their frustration over the disgusting attitude of WCL.

Both Senator Snowe and Tyler pointed out that WCL is the worst thing that has ever happened to the Western Region and the people of Liberia. They also pointed out that WCL is a bad investment partner to Liberia and that their operations have done Liberia more harm than good. The two senators wondered why WCL has elected to be very stubborn and disrespectful to the Western Region and the people of Liberia. All of the obligations enshrined in the MDA, that WCL signed onto to include the following: payment of SDF, employment of Liberian Citizens, Health and Education, pavement of selected roads, etc. all remained unfulfilled by the WCL.
In a united voice, both Senator Snowe and Senator Tyler expressed their outrage at WCL for failing to pay heed to the caution of deploying pilot cars in their haulage convoy (3 cars) in order to enhance safety on the highway. According to them, it is appalling to note that WCL has not paid the two million dollars per year Social Development Funds (SDF) due the Affected Communities as provided for in the MDA for three years (2022 to 2024). The company’s failure to do routine maintenance on the Bomi to Monrovia road was also a major issue raised by all the senators that were present at the meeting.

Additionally, the Chairperson of the Joint Committee, Sen. Numene T.H. Bartekwa also expressed his frustration and disappointment for the company flagrant disregard and refusal to live up to the provision of the Agreement signed with the Government of Liberia. He indicated that the Feb. 9, 2024 meeting with the WCL was the fourth meeting including a visit at the company’s head offices in Bomi all about the company’s failure to adhere to the MDA signed between the company and the Government of Liberia. Chairman Bartekwa indicated that during each of the above meetings, WCL management has made commitments to correct the wrongs. But unfortunately after sometimes, the company will be brought back to the committee again for the very same reasons. Chairman Bartekwa therefore expressed sympathy to the affected counties and assured them that a stringent measure will now be put in place to serve as deterrence.

In his response to the barrage of concerns from members of the Joint Committee, the Head of Operations of WCL, Mr. Chetan Savant, started by giving reasons for his company’s delay in living up to the provisions enshrined in the MDA. He attributed most of the reasons to the EVD and later the COVID 19 that ravaged the universe years ago. He also stated that the company has not been able to carry out her extension plan because the Ministry of Mines & Energy is yet to give the company Exploration License for the remaining two mines. He further intimated that the unavailability of land is the reason why the port construction in Bomboja, Grand Cape Mount County has not started. Mr. Chetan further intimated that the upgrading of the road from Bomi to Mano River has commenced.

Based on a careful analysis of the situation, the Joint Committee is pleased to report the following findings:
1. That WCL has not paid SDF to the Affected Communities from 2022 to 2024, 2. That WCL is yet to begin the construction of the port in Bomboja, Grand Cape Mount County with no tangible reason, 3. That WCL begins the haulage of its ore daily as early as 3PM as opposed to the government’s stipulated time of 7PM in the expired MOU, 4. That WCL has also not paid scholarship funds meant for students studying Engineering at the UL as indicated in the MDA.
Other findings include:
5. That WCL has outsourced all of its works to foreign firms unlike the provision of the MDA and therefore has no direct employees, 6. That WCL has no housing plan, no education plan, no health and insurance benefits for its workers because it has outsourced all of its human resource services, 7. That WCL’s assertion of the unavailability of land in Bomboja for the construction fa port is untrue as all the senators of the affected counties strongly denied the claim and 8. That WCL is in total breach and violation of the MDA between it and the Government of Liberia.

The Joint Committee after carrying out a thorough investigation of the complaint filed by Mrs. Daba Mabande Varpilah, Senator, Grand Cape Mount County, against the flagrant violation of the MDA by WCL herewith observed that WCL has and continue to breach all of the provisions enshrined in the MDA. Additionally, the committee observed that WCL has no good intention for Liberia and its people in the implementation of the MDA signed with the Government of Liberia. The Committee further observed that WCL has engaged in bad business practices which will eventually provide no benefit to the people of Liberia especially the affected communities if the necessary checkpoints are not erected. The Committee also observed that if the necessary safeguards are not erected now, WCL will extract all of the Iron Ore of the affected communities with no economic to them in particular and the country as a whole.

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