Several communities in Yekepa are currently facing an acute shortage of safe drinking water, compelling the residents to fetch their drinking water from the jungle.The Daily Observer, on a tour of some of the camps in Yekepa, including areas N, L, O and others, discovered that these communities are facing severe water problems which they claim have been brought to the attention of the Arcelor Mittal Management.Eric Yarwiah, a resident of area “L” in Yekepa, said, “We fetch our water from the spring right down in the valley because we are not benefiting from water provided by Mittal.”“We do not have even a hand pump within this community and continue to get drinking water from the spring in the jungle down the valley,” he added.When this reporter visited areas “L and N, people were seen getting water from the valley, about a 20 minute trek away somewhere around area “P.”Most of those seen at the spring drawing water were children of area residents.“My name is Theresa. I lived around area “O” and I come here daily to get our water because we do not have a well or pump around us,” a 12 year-old girl told our reporter.Yekepa is getting crowded, with people coming from across Liberia seeking for jobs and better living conditions.Some citizens expressed frustration over the failure of Mittal to provide them with safe drinking water or even electricity during the night.“We need electricity in our homes and this is absent. But Mittal is yet to install one light pole for street lights during the night. We are so surprised at the way they are separating us from their workers,” said Mary Bangura, resident of area “P”.Presently, Yekepa is divided into two, with workers of Mittal living in some of the camps already renovated with pipe borne water and 24-hour electricity.But, the rest of the camps are yet to benefit from any of these amenities, forcing many of the neglected communities to get drinking water from the spring.When contacted the public relations officer of Mittal, Mr. Jerry Mwagbe, said the company only provides water to where they have their workers.Most of the areas in Yekepa are yet to be renovated almost 10 years after Mittal took over operations of Liberia’s leading iron ore deposit in Nimba.The renovated camps where Mittal workers are living have been barricaded with wire fences and presently the company is issuing ID cards to all occupants to distinguish them from non-workers. However, according to the public relations officer, the fencing was intended to maintain security and monitor random movement.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
In a bid to formalise relations it shares with the National Toshaos Council (NTC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Natural Resources Ministry on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formally establish relations.The MoU will also pave the way for the Ministry to establish and maintain an effective communication channel with the Indigenous communities, through – but not limited to – the NTC and therefore promote tits programme as it relates to Guyana’s Indigenous stakeholders and other interested parties, and to workNatural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman (seated second from right) among executives from the NTC and WWFtogether on any other issues as may be mutually agreed upon between the parties.The collaboration between those two parties will ensure the mandate as set out in Part IV, Section 41 of the Amerindian Act 2006 as it relates to the areas of good governance and the preparing of strategies and plans for the protection, conservation and sustainable management of Indigenous community lands.Meanwhile, the MoU between the Natural Resources Ministry and the WWF serves as a renewal of a previous one.“It will now continue the working relationship between the Cooperative Government of the Republic of Guyana and World Wildlife Fund Inc, and extend it to incorporate specific relations between WWF; Ministry of the Presidency – Department of Environment (DoE); Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR); the Environmental Protection Agency; Guyana Forestry Commission; Guyana Geology and Mines Commission; Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission; Protected Areas Commission, Office of Climate Change, Department of Fisheries, Non-Governmental Organisations and Community-Based Organisations for the implementation of the WWF Guianas programme of activities in Guyana,” the Ministry explained in a statement.Attending the event were the Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman; NTC Chairman Toshao Nicholas Fredericks; Director of Environment, Ndibi Schwiers; WWF Guianas Representative Laurens Gomes and a few other officers.Trotman, who gave the feature address, alluded to the Ministry’s commitment to its motto to “Explore, Develop, Sustain” and said that it was recognised that these values could not be realised without strong partnerships. He said that it was upon this foundation that the MoUs with the WWF and the NTC will rest, since these agencies are recognised as partners who care about the sustainable management and development of the sector.The Minister also noted the productive engagements that the Ministry has had with both the WWF and the NTC in the past. The WWF has been a consistent partner and has provided financial, administrative, institutional and technical assistance and support to key natural resource agencies.