Liberia: As ArcelorMittal Goes into Lockdown Mode, Senators Seek Visit, Audience
Monrovia – Since recording a first case of the deadly Coronavirus last week, ArcelorMittal Liberia has gone into lockdown mode, announcing on Monday, a 14-day lockdown of its Buchanan Concession area as part of new tougher control measures. The decision comes after a number of additional positive Covid19 cases were reported on May 16, 2020 – all related to the initial positive case reported May 14.
Despite the announcement of a lockdown, some members of the Liberian Senate are insisting on visiting the facility including the hospital which the company recently set up to care for those infected with the virus.
In a communication to the company’s General Manager, obtained by FrontPageAfrica, Senator Jonathan Kaipay(Liberty Party, Grand Bassa) has requested a tour of the facility on Saturday, May 23, 2020.
Senator Kaipay wrote:
I have the pleasure to present my compliments and by this communication express the gratitude of the Liberian Senate for the continuous economic activities of the ArcelorMittal Liberia, that in meaningful ways, are contributing to government’s socio-economic programs.
The communication comes in fulfillment of the Senate’s oversight function in relation to public and private entities operating in the Republic. It’s aim is to notify your company of a planned visit by the leaderships of four specialized committees of the Senate (Labor, Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources & Environment, and Health, Gender, Children Protection) scheduled for Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 10:00 am in Buchanan.
During the visit the committees would be glad to engage the management on the following issues:
A guided tour of your factory in an effort to have first-hand knowledge into safety and pollution issues; A guided tour of the hospital to give the Senate’s committees, mainly the committees on Health, an insight into the hospital COVID-19 response plan; and a meeting with the workers’ union with emphasis on the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the company and the Union, as well as other issues of concern
While the company has said that all of the positive case patients are feeling well, and none is exhibiting symptoms, the request by senators to visit and tour is raising eyebrows.
Last month, President George Weah declared a state of emergency and announced that the country would go into a lockdown in a bid to curb coronavirus.
In a televised statement, the president said that all movement between Liberia’s 15 counties would be banned from 11:59 pm on Friday, and that all non-essential businesses and government offices would close.
Residents of four counties—including Monrovia’s, which is home to about 1 million people—must also stay at home for two weeks, he said.
Authorities in those counties will allow people to leave their homes only to buy food or for health reasons.
“We have to ask ourselves why we should abide by these measures. The answer is simple: to save lives,” Weah said.
On Monday, ArcellorMittal, in wake of recent cases recorded in Grand Bassa county, declared that a lockdown of its facility would will begin at 3:00 PM on Tuesday May 19, 2020 and during this period, the management of ArcelorMittal Liberia will enforce a range of measures including but not limited to:
Restriction of movement in and out of the concession. No entry or exits (except for essential staff). Private vehicles will be denied access. “Essential employees who live outside the Loop will continue to come to work, but only utilizing the company’s vehicles which will be disinfected regularly during the workday. All residents in the concession will be required to remain indoors and not go beyond 2 meters of their home.”
The company also says all domestic workers (who live outside the area) will be denied access for the 14 days and to ensure strict compliance, security will be posted outside the home of any staff in
The company says as it prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of its staff and the public, it is assuring the public of its continued commitment and support to efforts to combat the spread of the Coronavirus in Grand Bassa County and across Liberia.
It is unclear why Senators would insist on touring the company’s facility when it would be in a lockdown. In particularly, the emergence of new cases resulting from the first set of cases means Senators, if they decide to go on with their guided tour this weekend, could be putting themselves at risk. It is also unclear whether ArcelorMittal will give a greenlight to the tour.
ArcelorMittal is the world’s leading steel and mining company, with a presence in 60 countries and primary steelmaking facilities in 18 countries. In 2019, ArcelorMittal had revenues of $70.6 billion and crude steel production of 89.8 million metric tonnes, while iron ore production reached 57.1 million metric tonnes.