The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on March 30, 2018, approved the Inspection Panel’s recommendation not to investigate a Request for Inspection of the Lom Pangar Hydroelectric Project in Cameroon. The Panel had received the complaint on December 1, 2017, from two former project workers who asked for confidentiality. The Request alleged unpaid overtime work, indecent working conditions, unpaid social security dues and thus inability to benefit from the social security system, dismissal of all workers who contracted Hepatitis B on the project site, and “abandonment” of workers who suffered “drastic” industrial accidents on the site. The complainants also asked the Panel to include in the Request a 2015 report that raised concerns relating to working hours, workers’ weekly rest, annual leave, right to work issues, job security, occupational safety and health, discrimination based on race and retrenchment.
In its response, Bank management states that the issues raised in the Request were known to the Bank and borrower, and that the Bank has worked during the implementation of the project to satisfactorily address and resolve the issues. Management recognizes that, in light of the significant turnover in the workforce over the lifetime of the project, some of the measures put in place over the years may not have benefited every worker who left the worksite before these measures were implemented. Management explains that it has agreed with the borrower on an action plan that stipulates the existing Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) would continue to process project-related complaints, and that the Bank would support the borrower in a targeted effort to identify current or former workers who may have unresolved grievances, and would continue, and further strengthen where needed, supervision and implementation support. Management later submitted an addendum to its response, explaining that the Bank agreed with the borrower to extend the scope and staffing of the project’s GRM to review and address grievances of current and former workers, and that the borrower would conduct a communications campaign to reach out to current and former workers to inform them of the extended GRM. The addendum also states that the Bank recommended the extension of the project’s environmental and social panel of experts and the independent environmental and social auditors, and that the extension processes are underway.
In recommending the project not be investigated, the Panel took into account management’s acknowledgement of the issues raised in the Request and its commitment to work closely with the borrower to understand and address any outstanding grievances. It also noted that management committed to provide detailed feedback on the implementation of its action plan and its results within a year.