By Momoja Lappia
The leading iron ore miner in Sierra Leone, the African Minerals Limited, has consented that without change in the negative attitudes and behaviours of its employees and community members of Bumbuna in the Tonkolili District it will not be capable to usher in the economic change it desires for the country.
Making this statement during a meeting with members of the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change Secretariat in Bumbuna on June 7 this year, General Manager of African Minerals Limited, Mr. Jan Jansen, complained of how the manifestation of bad attitudes and behaviours are limiting the performance of the company. He rebuked the odd perception of certain employees and residents of Bumbuna which he said have created and still possess the potential to disturb the operational plans of the company.
He disclosed that the recent demonstration by workers did not only damage millions of US Dollars worth of properties of the company but also caused a fall in their share price.
He mentioned that lethargy to work, undue demand for astronomical wages, disregard for code of conduct, aggression to foreign staff and inflating the prices of basic goods and services as a result of their presence in the region as some of the negative attitudes and behaviours that are hampering the company’s ability to do business in the country.
Referring to such behaviours as unpatriotic, he maintained that they militate against the Government’s efforts to bring about economic, political and social prosperity to the country.
Giving an overview of African Minerals Limited, he said he is the fourth appointed General Manger of the company which started as a mini diamond exploring outfit in 2008 and now a giant in the iron ore industry as promising as, according to him, in spite of their operational challenges in ten years it will make Sierra Leone the largest exporter of the product in Africa. He attributed this possible achievement to company’s unique blend of workforce which comprises of almost all nationalities.
He contested the myth that the company distastes the enrollment of Sierra Leoneans, who, he said make up nearly 80% of the general workforce, noting that they are committed to their corporate social responsibilities especially in the areas of education, sports, environmental protection, health and the provision of decent jobs for the people of this country.
He debunked claims of poor working conditions and described the workers that stage-managed the last industrial strike as inflexible workers who, he said, are bad examples for any business concern. He called on Sierra Leoneans to realize that due to its robust advancement of African Minerals Limited the country is under the direct supervision of the international community, more especially other countries where iron ore is mined. He called on the workers and community members to present the best forms of attitudes and manners.
He commended President Ernest Bai Koroma for his vision of establishing the ABC Secretariat to recreate Sierra Leone, promising that the management of Africa Mineral’s is ready to partner with the Secretariat to bring about positive transformation to the country.
In his contribution, Paramount Chief Alimamy B. Y. Koroma 111 expressed his bitterness over the negative attitudes and behaviours of his subjects, more especially those directly undermining the achievements of Africa Mineral Limited, which he agreed is a mining outfit that is injecting a lot of development into Sierra Leone and the country at large. He condemned the plundering of the company’s fuel allegedly with the assistance of certain malcontent members of the Sierra Leone Police attached to the area. He condemned the past revolt by workers which he said was orchestrated by some ex-employees and half-baked community members. Paramount Chief Koroma 111 pleaded with the ABC Secretariat to partner with the company in sensitizing those he described as trouble makers.
Addressing the gathering, the Executive Director of ABC Secretariat, Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas, maintained that for the betterment of all parties a mutual relationship should exist between the management and its employees. He underscored that the xenophobia certain employees and community members are directing at their workmates is unproductive and liable to spur unrest that will undermine the intended objectives of a peaceful environment. Dr. Thomas commended the company for their relentless contributions to the development of Sierra Leone and encouraged them to continue their good works more especially in the areas of honoring corporate taxes, infrastructural development and employment of trained and qualified citizens.
In her statement the National Coordinator and Second-in-Command of ABC Secretariat, Madam Nanette Thomas thanked the foreign expatriates, who, despite what she described as grave culture shock are still resilient to perform their specialized duties to make Africa Minerals Limited a true success story. She praised the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Frank Timis, for what she termed as a marvelous insight to gain the hearts of notable investors to initiate what has now become a household name in Sierra Leone.
She emphasized the input the company is making to rebrand the country, but however called on the company’s management to understand that they are operating in a postwar country where most of the community members are still recovering from the hangover effects of war.
Thanking the executives of ABC Secretariat the company’s Community Liaison Officer, Mr. Tim Fofana, reiterated how bad manners of their community members has and is seriously affecting operations and thanked the visiting team for agreeing to assist them to address this plague.
The high point of the occasion was a conducted tour led by Mr. Alex Marrik of the Operations Department around the company’s mining site.