MARGIBI COUNTY – During the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak in Liberia, Winner M. Binda, Roseline Sieh, Sieneh G. Kerkula were downsized by authorities of the Salala Rubber Company (SRC) and Golden Veroleum (Liberia) operating in Margibi and Sinoe Counties, making life and things economically devastating and difficult for them and their respective families.
They acquired the training to operate heavy-duty equipment at their places of work but did not receive the adequate remunerations as compared to their male counterparts on grounds that they were taught and trained by the companies on a pro-bono basis.
In 2019 and 2020 respectively, they were among scores of other employees that were redundant by the companies after spending more than six years each on the jobs.
Following the redundancy, life became so tough and unbearable for the trio until they heard about the Jeety Rubber Liberia Limited Corporation (LLC).
Some time ago, the National Legislature passed an Investment Incentive agreement for the company, which is being constructed, to operate in Gborplay Town, District #5, Margibi County. It occupies about 222.3 acres of land.
The company is expected to transform latex into finished products
It is owned by renowned Indian business tycoon, Dr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva, who is commonly known as “Jeety” in Liberia
Dr. Sachdeva, is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jeety Trading Corporation-a premier importer and distributor in hardware and building materials- and scores of other businesses across the country.
He is also the former Indian Honorary Consul General to Liberia.
“I heard it over air (radio) that Jeety was opening a company here. I applied and brought my letter to the police commander and God made me to be successful and that’s how I started working with Jeety” Sieneh G. Kerkula, a mother of two children stated.
She disclosed that the decision was taken to engage into heavy-duty driving, after two years of sitting and doing nothing, was intended to “advance herself and be able to do something” for the future of her children.
As a single mother, Sieneh shoulders the burdens and responsibilities of the kids and home alone.
“I do not want my children to suffer tomorrow like me”.
She recalled that after acquiring heavy duty driving skills from the SRC in 2013, she was paid a minimum wage to help sustain her and the family.
Do something to sustain yourself
“I want to encourage my friends that it is not good to just sit down and depend on men’s pockets because, some days it can be easy. If you just depend on men’s pockets-some of them will get it but they will not be able to release it to you to help yourself. The way they (men) will see you helping yourself, they will be able to move to help you in the process to move forward”.
“I feel happy when I am moving this thing (heavy duty driving) and none of my bosses get problem with me. I believe that anything men do, women can also do it”.
Getting rid of disadvantage
Winner M. Binda pointed out that the decision taken to acquire skills in heavy duty was due to the high level of “disadvantage” she suffered at the hands of some men in the past.
“If you are sitting down home and you are not doing nothing and if your man go and do his work, when he gets back home, he will never report to you good. They will not even value you. But if I am doing my own work and holding my own money, you will not be able to treat me like how you treating me now”.
She noted that in a bid to be seen as a contributor to the home and family, she mustered the courage to acquire the skills and become productive as compare to others.
Females’ operating heavy duty earth moving equipment is very rare in post-conflict Liberia.
Many of them believed that the task is for men only.
Winner disclosed that she and others at the company were bullied by some of their colleagues for stepping in the shoes of men at her previous job site.
“Many days we can hear them saying that ‘if you are a female and you are riding tractor, you can’t born (bear a child). When I be riding tractor they can call me ‘arm bush driver’. But later, I was pregnant and I born. I am having my baby with me”.
In the wake of negative perception and bullying, she encouraged females to make use of any opportunity accorded them to acquire skills in heavy duty driving.
She, however, admitted that she has reaped multiple benefits as a result of her decision taken to acquire similar skills.
Prior to acquiring the training in heavy duty driving in 2013, Winner spent a lot of money on house rent.
But she managed to purchase a land and build a house after spending six years with SRC prior to being redundant.
“I am proud to work with a company which has moving equipment like truck because; it will also make me to get my own things tomorrow. The working condition here is ok with me”.
Discouraging fun in relationship
Roseline Sieh was employed with Golden Veroleum in 2014 in Grand Kru County.
As a result of her improvement in tractor driving, she was transferred to Sinoe County.
She was acquiring additional skills to operate heavy duty trucks at the company, but the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic which triggered her redundancy short-lived her dream.
Roseline disclosed that she went the extra mile to obtain a heavy duty driving certificate to get rid of pleasure for help in a relationship.
“Sometimes if you are not on a job or working to earn your own money, men can play fun out of you. This is why I decided to learn this. I feel happy if I see myself driving this tractor. I am even willing to learn more; not only this tractor alone. If I had the opportunity to learn, I could learn more than this. I am even willing to drive a caterpillar or yellow machine in the future if I have the opportunity to do that”.
The female heavy duty drivers at the Jeety Rubbers LLC expressed delight over the favorable working conditions and relationship they have with their bosses at the company.
They expressed gratitude over the cordial working relationship among them and their male counterparts (especially those involved with heavy duty driving).
They dispelled rumors and speculations that foreigners are being employed at the company over qualified and competent Liberians.
According to them, Liberians are holding key managerial positions at the company even though full-scale operations are yet to commence.
The females are three among the scores of males, who are engaged into heavy duty driving at the company.
Their employment is in keeping with the company’s strict and uncompromising policy on the empowerment of women in post-conflict Liberia.
In December 2021, the Investment Incentive agreement was ratified by the 54th National Legislature.
According to the agreement, Jeety Rubber LLC will construct, develop and operate a national rubber processing and production plant for the production of tyres and other natural rubber products.
It includes long and short rubber goods.
The processing plant is also expected to also produce hand gloves, rain boots, and rubber bands, among others.
The company will process approximately 25,000 tons of natural rubber per annum.
It compels Jeety Rubber LLC to consider the interest of local rubber traders and others during its purchasing of raw materials.
In the wake of the high level of unemployment rate in Liberia, the Jeety Rubber processing plant agreement ratified by the Liberian government will help many citizens to put food on the tables for them and their respective households.
More than 700 Liberians are expected to gain full employment with the company upon the commencement of its full operations. Additional citizens will also be accorded job opportunities following the expansion of the company’s operation.
Jeety Rubber LLC will also prioritize the purchasing of latex from small local rubber planters from across the 15 counties in a bid to help expand the Liberian economy, which is experiencing turbulent times.
Already local rubber producers are finding it very difficult to grow, harvest, or market their produce due to the lack of investment opportunities in the sector.
Citizens of the company’s area of operations are the ones that will be given preference in terms of job provision.
The new agreement ratified by the government of Liberia has the proclivity to also combat against the high rate of poverty in Liberia.
It will alleviate sufferings among the citizenry through the provision of job opportunities and contributions to basic social services and empowerment opportunities in keeping with its corporate social responsibility.
Many believed that the establishment and commencement of full operations by the Jeety Rubber LLC in Liberia will now compel other foreign and local rubber production companies operating in the country to muster the courage to ensure the construct of companies to process the unfinished materials to finished goods.
When this is done, it would immensely contribute to combating against security threats in Liberia as a result of the influx of vulnerable youths who continue to roam across the country due to the lack of job opportunities.