GANTA, Nimba – Nimba’s superintendent has sought to calm owners of properties marked for demolition along the Ganta to Yekepa road who have expressed concerns that construction along the road has begun without any compensation.
Compagnie Sahélienne d’Entreprises, the Senegalese firm contracted to build the 70-kilometer road from Ganta to Yekepa, has begun installing culverts at critical spots along the road. Meanwhile, structures earmarked for demolition are still intact.
In light of the confusion among the public as to why construction is ongoing when owners of those properties have not yet been paid, Nimba’s Superintendent Dorr Cooper has decided to allay the concerns of property owners.
“There is no way that you will do the road, once people are affected by the work, that the payments will not be done—this is something that the government cannot shy away from,” Cooper said. “Right now, as I speak to you, they [Compagnie Sahélienne d’Entreprises] are not doing any earth work—the machines are not moving like what they can do during the dry season.”
Cooper continued: “This is the rainy season and what they’re doing now is the installation of the culverts along the way. When that is over, and we draw closer to the dry season, the machines will be redeployed along the road, during which time, the earth moving equipment will be busy doing the earth work. At that time, the road will be extended, and properties that are affected will be paid for.”
The government is expected to provide US$10 million to compensate property owners while ArcelorMittal is responsible for the US$40 million needed to do the road.
In 2016, former Superintendent Fong Zuagele said the project was halted because ArcelorMittal’s finances were negatively impacted by the decline in the price of iron ore on the world market. Zuagele said ArcelorMittal was “unable to honor its commitments – including contributions to the road work, and the social development funds.”
After Pres. George Weah came into power, the world steel giant recommitted itself to building the road. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 6 this year in Ganta to commemorate the resumption of the work.
Cooper is calling on the affected property’s owners to be rest assured that they would receive their payments once active work starts.
“We just want to plead with them to hold their hearts because we are almost in the dry season,” he said. “We are getting very close, and once we get there, the payment will recommence.”
The rainy season is expected to be over by November.
Featured photo by Arrington Ballah