Energy & EnvironmentGlobe Afrique Liberia

Ghanaians, Ivoirians could face citizens’ backlash for exploiting Liberia’s minerals

New York, USA – Ghanaians, Ivoirians and others from Mali and Burkina Faso in Liberia could face backlash for illegally exploiting Liberia’s minerals, especially the country’s gold and diamonds.

Thousands of Ghanaians and Ivoirians, as well as other nationals from Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso, are pouring into Liberia to exploit the country gold and diamond reserves indiscriminately. 

Illegal mining in Bong County

Several Liberians mainly complained about the attitude of Ghanaians and Ivoirians whom they say have no regard for the laws and regulations of the country and are illegally mining and smuggling huge deposits of gold and diamonds out of the country on a weekly basis.

The actions of the Ghanaians and Ivoirians have disproportionately destroyed several aspects of Liberia’s eco-system and forest areas as they ruthlessly exploit gold and diamond.

According to sources, the authorities in Ghana sent its military to chase out Ghanaians who were engaged in illegal mining and minerals smuggling in Ghana.  Most of those chased out have now migrated to Liberia where they are causing environmental damage to the country.

This form of territorial disregard and destruction of another’s country has created serious concerns in Liberian communities at home and abroad to the point that several citizen groups, especially young people, are furious and want to take a stance since the Liberian government appears to be powerless and compromised in enforcing the Liberian laws.

Dixon Tarpeh, a Liberian youth who studied in Nigeria before traveling to Canada said what the Ghanaians are doing in Liberia can never happen in Ghana because Ghanaians do not give any opportunity and freedom to Africans from other countries.

Tarpeh said the lack of patriotism coupled with greed and weakness in Liberian politics and governance structure are responsible for the disadvantage, disregard, and abuse that nationals of other African countries rendered against Liberia and Liberians.

Illegal mining spot in Liberia

Ben Toe Wilson, another Liberian said President Weah and the CDC-led government should send the military and police forces in the areas where the Ghanaians and Ivoirians are destroying in the country as they mine and smuggle Liberia’s resources.

“Ghanaians think Liberians are fools because our lawmakers and officials behave like the country is a foolish place.  This cannot happen in Ghana,” Wilson said.

Some say the illegal mining has been going on for several years now, and it all began under ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration which awarded several foreign nationals, including Nigerian Praise Tony Lawal, from other West African countries government contracts and privileges.

Praise Tony Lawal, a non-engineer, is said to have benefited from Liberian government roads and related constructions contracts worth millions of dollars.  None of the contracts was ever implemented even though he (Lawal) and his Liberians accomplices got paid by the Ministry of Finance with the approval of the Ministry of Public Works.

Many believe it is these kinds of actions that make foreign nationals to disregard Liberian laws.

Eyewitnesses say there is a huge influx of foreigners throughout Liberia, mining and smuggling gold and diamond and destroying the forest and the eco-system. 

Some say over 500 Ghanaians settled and are mining in Sass Town Beach, Grand Kru County.  Others are mining and smuggling gold and diamond from other parts of the country, including from the St. Paul’s River near the capital Monrovia’s suburbs.

Although most of illegal gold and diamond miners and smugglers are Ghanaians, other illegal miners and smugglers speak only French, implying they are Ivoirians.

Dozens of Liberian communities abroad are alarmed by the behaviors of foreigners from other West African nations in Liberia. 

Some say if the Liberian government does not stop the Ghanaians, Ivoirians and other foreign nationals from destroying the country’s land areas and the smuggling of the country’s resources, citizen action will be necessary to halt them.

“Liberians are friendly people, and we welcome people from all African nations, but the Ghanaians and Ivoirians and others should not do to Liberia what their people will never allow Liberians and others to do in their country,” said Wilson.

“If President Weah and his government cannot act, Liberians will act and swiftly too,” he said.

Foreigners carrying out illegal mining and smuggling of gold and diamonds
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Paul Stevens

Paul Stevens is a researcher, media issues analyst and senior contributor with Globe Afrique.
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