Monday, October 25, 2010

Bong Mines Camps to be Evicted

-Residents plead for compensation

Residents of the Bong Mines concession area over the week-end expressed grave concern about the coming of China-Union Mining Company to the area which would warrant the relocation of those who live within the camp houses which was built for workers of the German owned Bong Mining Company (BMC) the late 1970s.
In a telephone interview with Dr. Eugene Shannon, Minister of Lands, Mines, and Energy, he told the Daily Observer the area had been turned over to China-Union to carry out mining activities.
Minister Shannon further said all those living within the China-Union concession area had been given time to vacate the premises for the company to begin its operations.
He stated that those who legitimately own property backed by document(s) would be compensated based on the value of their properties and those who were just squatting would be given time to leave the area.
“In the concession agreement with China-Union, the property should be turned over to them. For those who owned legitimate properties in the area, their deeds will be brought forward and they will be rightly compensated. No one will be taken out without compensation if you own a property legitimately. And if you are just squatting, we will give you time to move,” he said.
Asked what would become of the BMC workers that are residing within the premises, Minister Shannon said the concession agreement with the Bong Mining Company had expired and if the government owes the workers anything, they should carry their grievances to the government.
“It is the responsibility of the government to access your pleas, your plights and address them properly,” he said.
However, according to some of the residents who had lived in the area since 1983, relocation would be a “big blow” to them because they have come to see the Camp houses as their homes.
Idris Nelson, a resident of camp Gotoria and a volunteer nurse at the Bong Mines Hospital, in an interview with this writer who visited the area last Friday, said he had heard of an eviction that would take place in the area.
“I have been hearing the rumor,” Mr. Nelson began, “that the government will evict us from the camps to create space for the China Union company that is coming to extract iron from here. But where will we go?”
Mr. Nelson, as a former worker of the Bong Mining Company (BMC), and his family have been living in the camp since 1983 when Bong Mines Concession was fully operational.
“I have lived here since 1983 with my family and we have nowhere else that we call a home. If the government says we should move, we will move. But I would like to appeal to the government to use its good offices to compensate us so that we can be able to relocate,” He said.
He further said those who live in the concession area were citizens of the country and hoped that the China-Union company that is going to the area would recruit those who are willing and able to work.
Also speaking with the Daily Observer, Mr. J. Randolph Parker, master of Camp Gbelkeh and a mechanic, who worked for the BMC for about 26 years, said some people from the Ministry of Land Mines and Energy had earlier gone to the area and asked him to take a census of the people that live in the Camp.
He added that they were then informed that the census was to be taken in order to help the government give them some compensation for renovations they had carried out on the houses within the camps.
“We have taken the census that the Ministry asked for, but we are yet to hear from them. The exact amount that will be given to us was not disclosed; all we can hope for is that the token should be enough to help us relocate,” Mr. Parker said.
“We cannot fight government,” Mr. Parker admitted, “but we are appealing to government to see reason to have us compensated.”