House of Representatives Want Cocopa Rubber Concession Frozen
Monrovia – The House of Representatives has requested President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf not to sign a 30-year concession agreement involving Nimba Rubber Incorporated and the Government of Liberia until civil unrest at Cocopa Rubber Plantation is resolved.
Nimba Rubber Incorporated, a Liberian owned business and the National Investment Commission (NIC) on July 7, 2016 signed a concession agreement for the running of Cocopa Rubber Plantation in Nimba County. The plantation’s value exceeds US$20 million.
The 30-year deal was entered without the approval of the Legislature and it was singlehandedly sourced to Nimba Rubber Incorporated in violation of Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), the House said on Thursday.
A joint committee of the House of Representatives, headed by the Committee on Agriculture and Judiciary, following a complaint from Nimba County Representative Worlea Saywah Dunah about labor unrest at the plantation held meetings with stakeholders.
Representative Dunah of District #7, Nimba County who represents the Saclepea-Mah Statutory District where Cocopa Plantation is, said the current operator of the farm, Nimba Rubber Incorporated, has failed overtime to ensure the timely payment of salary, benefits and retirement packages to employees and retirees, leading to repeated acts of unrests on the Plantation.
“This ugly situation has now spilled into the community and has become a source of insecurity for the inhabitants,” he wrote.
He said that a new and dangerous trend to the unrest was the blocking of an ambulance which was transporting a woman in labor who had complication.
“This pregnant woman walked five miles to the nearest clinic,” he told the House of Representatives.
Representative Dunah further revealed that for the past three months, food ration was not distributed and as the result there is widespread hunger on the farm; this situation is totally curable within Liberia.
“The most amazing revelation is that in the midst of all of these problems associated with the Nimba Rubber administration, a contract awarding the plantation to the Nimba Rubber for thirty years has been signed and awaits the President signature and that even though the farm values exceed twenty million, the Public Procurement and Concession Commission single sourced it to the Nimba Rubber,” Rep. Dunah disclosed.
Representative Dunah said that the Nimba County Legislative Caucus has never been informed of the procurement process and the contract on Cocopa to Nimba Rubber Incorporated.
He alleged that the company is owned by the Managing Director of Forestry Development Agency (FDA), Harrison Karnwea and it lacks the capacity to operate the plantation.
Representative Dunah insisted that to grant the thirty years contract will lead to more problems at Cocopa.
Following the holding of meeting with all stakeholders, the committee headed by Rivercess County Representative Byron Zahnwea, Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, recommended that President Sirleaf should not sanction the agreement
The Committee also requested that Nimba Rubber Incorporated make available copies of the thirty years contract to the Joint Committees and the Nimba Caucus.