As Liberia slowly recovers from 14 years of civil strife which destroyed the productive capacity and physical infrastructure of the country, one major challenge which encompasses not only economic recovery and globalization is the need to create investment to jump-start the Liberian economy.
China Union Liberia, one of several Iron-Ore Mining Companies which in 2009 signed a US$2.0 billion mineral agreement with the Government of Liberia, thus becoming the only company with the single highest investment in the Country's mining sector is scheduled to start operation in the middle of 2013.
Recently, this paper visited the Iron-Ore Bong County, on an investigative tour as well as speaking to several employees and scores of resident about some basic social service of employees of the company and the 2,000 jobs that would be provided for Liberians, especially for those residing in Bong Mines and its surroundings.
During the tour this paper also gathered that China Union Liberia has made a number of significant progress, to include, the reconditioning and construction of other necessary roads which has increased commercial activities in the area as well as the full completion of its geological surveys and basic designs for layout of the company's vicinity.
According to the contract, the group is to carry out iron-ore mining in Liberia for the period of 25 years, and it is expected that surrounding counties such as Margibi and Montserrado will immensely benefit from the project, especially the component that has to do with implementing its social development initiatives.
Additionally, this paper also managed to talk with some of the residents of Bong Mines, including Hon. Ben A. Fofana, (Representative of Margibi County). According to Hon. Fofana, the relationship between the company and the residents is cordial. He however stressed that the China Union was still in its initial stages of operations; something he said suggested that the group was still less effective.
Hon. Fofana said there seems to be hope for the youth because the company would provide training for employees of the Company, but however indicated that it was too early to predict.
Also an employee of the Company who spoke to this paper said some employees had already gone through the training and have been assigned in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County and other areas.
He then urged the youth in the County to make use of the opportunity offer by China Union Liberia in order to make themselves better suited in the rebuilding of the Nation.
In an exclusive interview with this paper recently, Tony Yang, Deputy Administrative Manager of China Union Liberia, indicated that the company has already started reconditioning and constructing the Bong Mines Road.
Yang Jing said there were two phases of the road reconditioning project, naming Bong Mines-Kakata Road and the Kakata-Heindi Road as project already earmarked by the Company.
He also disclosed that the Company was already in the process of renovating the Bong Mine School in the area, with civil works almost completed but has not been officially turn over to the Company.
He named the hospital as another key area which is currently been rehabilitated and indicated that China Union which will be responsible for the day to day running of the hospital is currently procuring drugs and other medical equipment which will shortly be deliver.
Once completed, the paved road will be of great help to the struggling rural dwellers who have to endanger their lives daily between the commercial city of Kakata and Bong Mines and parts adjacent on the speeding commercial motorbikes (or 'pehn-pehn') which race with the few vehicles on the dusty road.
In the current dry season, commuters plying the road have to endure the harshness of the dust while they wait to battle the mud in the rainy season over the next few months. But all of that could change if the pavement of the road is completed and of quality too.