Monrovia – Citizens of some parts of Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties have launched an appeal to Malaysian Company Sime Darby, which is operating oil palm planations in the two counties, to extend its operations in their areas.
Report by J.H. Webster Clayeh – [email protected]
Inhabitants of Tubmanburg, Bomi County and Gahn-Zodua Clan, Garwulah District, Grand Cape Mount County have praised the company for the manner in which it is conducting its operations in other parts of the counties especially avoiding carbon pollution.
Despite some prominent citizens of Bomi County operating farmlands, Sime Darby remains the only large scale agriculture company in the two counties.
Momo Zodua an inhabitant of Failie, Garwulah District Grand Cape Mount County says they are calling on Sime Darby to expand its operations in their community in order for the company to develop their land for the future of their children.
With the operation of the company in the two Counties and a plan to extent to a third county—Gbarpolu— there has been concerns about carbon effect that could affect habitants of that region.
But according to Zodua, the lands that they have given Sime Darby do not have a high forest.
“The only thing that we want to tell our government and the international community is that we have high forest but the area we gave Sime Darby no high forest there. Sime Darby can go ahead it will not affect us. We gave the place to Sime Darby for free.”
Zodua said with the land given to Sime Darby, he is optimistic that the company can help with the building of schools, clinics and providing scholarships for their children.
Abdullai Sembeh, 52, Town Chief of Gahn-Zodua Garwulah District Grand Cape Mount County says it is good that Sime Darby is operating in their county but added that the forest is far from where they have given the company.
For him, the youths in the County are losing interest in subsistence farming and with the expansion of Sime Darby; their children can get employment and be able to help themselves.
“It is good that they are here in our county, our children will benefit because we are already old and we can’t do any hard work again”, he said.
With about 1,800 inhabitants, Zodua clan has only one Junior high school and is without a clinic. Jenneh Moore, Chairlady of Zodua Clan explained that many women are facing lots of problems with child birth because they walk long distances to access medical facility to give birth.
Ma Jenneh, as she is commonly called, is optimistic that the expansion of Sime Darby will help them to build clinic in their town to ease the many problems they (Women) are faced with.
“It is not easy on us the women, when we get in delivery pain we walk long distance to get to the clinic because no car”, she said.
Ma Jenneh added: “but the way Sime Darby na come in our place they will help build clinic to help us”.
More needs to be done
Samuel Browne, Superintendent of Bomi County says at present all is well in Bomi and Sime Darby is doing well to a larger extend.
According to him the presence of the company in their county has created more jobs for their people but added that there are still concerns that more should be done by the company.
He explained: “the palm on the plantation has overgrown or almost to bear why will they not take the seeds and give it to potential farmers that could use it under a MOU and that at the end of the day they will be able to buy the produce from farmers like the case in Firestone”.
A concession agreement between the County and Sime Darby the superintendent, he said, states that every fiscal year the company will provide ten thousand dollars to the county but to his dismay for the past six years, they have not received any money from Sime Darby.
“We have not received any money yet but we think it is about time that we call on their attention to request for that money to be part of our development basket for the county”, he said.
He added: “if Sime Darby was giving us that money, I believe that the money could reach to our people and that could serve as an impetus to allow some expansion”, Superintendent Browne concluded.
Bendu Johnson, a member of Rural Women in Tubmanburg, Bomi County says Sime Darby came in their county they could benefit but sees things going quite the contrary.
“Well, Sime Darby is a company that has come into our County to benefit the County and alleviate the poverty from the County. We want to so far say thanks to them but then the inhabitants are really not benefiting from what Sime Darby has said they are going to do for the inhabitants”, she explained.
Sime Darby signed a 63-year concession agreement with the Government of Liberia to plant oil palm and rubber on 220,000 hectares of land in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Bong Counties.