Liberia: MNG Management ‘Delays’ Transfer of Excavator’s Victim Despite Doctors’ Advice for Spinal Surgery Abroad

Kodjovi Abenydibo

BONG COUNTY – The management of MNG Gold Mining Company in Bong County is said to be delaying doctors’ advice to transfer victim of earthmoving excavator machine for spinal surgery abroad.

The incident occurred on July 2, 2019, 12 mid-night at the section of the mine called Arabi in Kokoya District, Bong County. The incident which saw the victims (Kodjovi Abenydibo) jumped out of his assigned white-colored Mercedes truck #13 and lay flat on the ground, took place when Operator of the Excavator machine hit the white Mercedes truck during loading. 

The excavator driver, only identified as Edrisa did not notice that the force from the excavator had impact on Kodjovi until after several minutes, at which time he saw the victim lying on the ground. 

“When the excavator hit the truck, the operator did not notice that Kodjovi had been injured due to the force. So he continued working until after several minutes before he realized that the truck he was loading was not moving, then he decided to stop. When he stopped, he came out and saw the truck driver lying flat on the ground”, a source hinted this writer.  

As a major gold mining company in Liberia, MNG has been in the middle of series of controversies ranging from pollution, which caused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to institute a fine against it as well as issue of alleged bad labor practice, that also resulted to the intervention of the Ministry of Labor, and now the recent incident involving Kodjovi.  

In October 2016, a Turkish national in the employ of the company reportedly pushed over a local staff, Matthew Ben from the 2nd floor of a three-storey building, then under construction by the Company. The company, out of neglect delayed in seeking proper medical care for Ben. But following series of publications by this writer, the company acted and also offer immunity to Ben from daily hire to full employment status. 

Three years after Ben’s incident, another staff has fallen victim to bad labor practice. This time around is Kodjovi Abenydibo, a truck driver who got injured from excavator effect during the loading of debris from mining.  

The unfortunate situation occurred on July 2, 2019 at midnight on a section of the mine called Arabi. Following the incident, an insider said the company’s medical doctor and his assistant rushed the victim to the company’s clinic, where he spent two hours on bed. While at the company’s clinic, it is reported that victim, Abenydibo was only given pain killer rub to cool the pain he was going through.   

Accordingly, an eyewitness disclosed that the next day, the doctor referred the victim to the Safety Manager for questioning in line with company’s policy. After three days, a close associate to the victim said he (victim) could not turn around swiftly in bed, causing him difficulties in urinating. “The next day, my friend could not walk freely or turn around in bed like before. He was even finding it difficult to pepe”, the friend to the victim narrated. 

According to him, when the victim was experiencing difficulty in urinating, he immediately went back to the company’s doctor and explained the problem he was facing. In response, the doctor sent him back to the company’s clinic for lab, during which time it was reported that there was nothing wrong with his urine.  

However, due to constant pain, a source informed this writer that the company medical staff referred the victim to Phebe Hospital to do an x-ray. At Phebe, the victim was told that the machines are all down, but they could only give him injection to stabilize his condition. 

When quizzed, a staff of Phebe confirmed the victim’s visit at the hospital, but indicated that the victim returned the same day. “He came here for medical attention, but could not get the necessary care due to break down of equipment. So he have to return to the camp the same day”, said staff of the hospital. Even upon his return, an insider said the victim could not freely turn in bed on both sides. 

As a result of the constant pain, a staff working in the company’s clinic who begged not to be named, said the doctor decided to transfer the victim to John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital (JFK) in Monrovia for advance checkup on August 8, 2019. At JFK, the victim met a Bone Doctor/Consultant, Doctor Robert Mulbah, who also recommended an X-ray as first step towards addressing the problem. 

Doctor Mulbah, perhaps not satisfy with the result decided to transfer the victim to JAHMALE Medical Solutions at ELWA Junction. Following a thorough check at JAHMALE Medical Solution on August 27, 2019, the result was sent back to Dr. Mulbah who interpreted and advised that the victim seek medical treatment abroad. “Patient is advised to seek for spinal surgery abroad as this service is currently not available in Liberia”, the medical report is quoted as saying on October 10, 2019. An insider at JFK disclosed that Dr. Mulbah, as was of helping to stabilize the pain, gave the victim some drugs to apply for one month. However, following the one month, there was no improvement in victim’s condition. 

As usual, the victim decided to return to the company’s doctor (Mehmet Ertetin) in Kokoya to inform him about the non-improvement in his health. “So he went back to the company’s doctor, Mehmet and explained to him that there was no improvement”, the source further noted. Upon the victim return, it is reported that the Doctor only gave him pain rub along with pain tablet, and promised to send him back to Monrovia to meet with an advance doctor. 

For the second time at JFK, a staff noted the victim met with Dr. Mulbah’s assistant, who also confirmed that the damage done to the victim could not be repaired in Liberia, and as such, he (victim) needed advanced medical treatment abroad. Like previous recommendations, the latest one was reportedly rejected by the company’s doctor. “Upon Kodjovi’s return, the company’s doctor rejected all the reports from JFK, and sent him to the Nero specialist, Doctor Alvin Nah Doe on November 15, 2019, a concern company staff lamented. 

Following Doctor Nah’s review of the medical records, this journalist learned that he (Dr. Nah) panicked, and immediately called the company’s doctor to report to Monrovia. According to information, the company’s doctor he could not immediately come to Monrovia due to other engagements, but promised to do so on November 23, 2019, a period, Dr. Nah said was too long for such condition. 

“Imagine Dr. Nah also confirmed that the problem was spinal cord problem, and that there was no equipment to perform the surgery in Liberia,” the source further disclosed.  

All follow ups with the management of the company failed, as no one was willing to talk about the incident. When I called the Government Liaison Officer, Eugene Kollie, he told me he will get back to me after talking with the medical staff. I again called the Community Liaison Officer of the company, Kie Gboe who said he knew nothing about the incident being investigated. As for the Medical Doctor, Mehmet Ertetin, he perpetually cut off the phone each time I dialed his number.

Up to press time, the company is yet to act on doctors’ recommendation to airlift the victim for advanced medical intervention, as he languishes in pain and agony.