Liberia: Logging Communities in Gbarpolu, Lofa Counties Demand Social Benefits
Lofa County – A Liberian government delegation has held an intervention meeting in Buluyeama, Lofa County where a company has been accused by locals for illegal logging and failing to impact the affected communities.
The firm, Sing Africa Plantation Liberia Limited, is carrying out massive logging of a vast forest at the border of Gbarpolu and Lofa Counties.
There has been ongoing tension between the firm and the four communities in Gbarpolu County for the past three years. Several interventions by the former superintendents of Lofa and Gbarpolu Counties failed to mitigate the dispute.
The disagreement resulted to the seizure of some of the company’s equipment by citizens of the four communities. They are demanding that the firm performs its social corporate responsibilities.
The community actions have halted the operations of the logging company.
The communities are requesting roads, schools, clinics and hand pumps amongst others.
The recent meeting, held on May 26, came following a fact-finding meeting held on May 10 when officials launched an investigation to determine the alleged unlawfully logging operation in Buluyeama forest.
The government delegation included the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority, Deputy Ministers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Superintendents of Lofa and Gbarpolu Counties.
Tamba Kamba, Lofa County Superintendent, requested the company to present all necessary documents relating to their operations in the county.
Superintendent Kamba said he wanted to know the legal status of the company in order to handle the dispute for all parties involved.
He said it was important to have a clear understanding of the company operations and its social corporate responsibility to the affected communities.
Gbarpolu County Superintendent concurred with Kamba, calling on the communities to hold on until an investigation is concluded. He, however, promised the communities that all necessary social benefits will be provided by the firm.
During the meeting, the company also promised to meet up with its social corporate responsibilities for the communities in the next five months but didn’t provide reasons for failing to impact the communities where it has been operating for the over three years.
Editor’s Note: This story was produced by Local Voices Liberia, a network of journalists in the 15 counties.