Liberia: Salala Rubber Corporation Identifies with residents Near Its Plantation Amid Surge in COVID Cases
Salala, Margibi County – The management of Liberia’s third-largest producer of the rubber, Salala Rubber Corporation, (SRC), has begun providing for the health and other essential needs of local people near its plantation in upper Margibi County, amid the surge in COVID 19 Cases in Liberia.
As of June 1 through July 1-4, 2021, Margibi County has recorded a total of 85 new cases and 756 contacts with one death while a total of 47 active cases with 490 contacts are currently being catered to in the county, according to the Incident Management System, (IMS) of the Margibi County Health Team.
However, as part of its campaign to ensure a zero case on its plantation and surrounding environment, SRC has embarked on the production and airing of COVID 19 awareness jingles in English and local vernacular on various radio stations in the district.
In addition, it has also formed an internal COVID-19 Taskforce that has put preventive and protective measures in place in the company’s operational areas, such as having hand-washing buckets in place at all entry points within SRC premises; and providing all necessities at its health center and offices.
There has been increasing awareness creation about preventive measures, such as the washing of hands frequently, maintaining social distancing, avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth, practicing respiratory hygiene, among others. Also, the SRC management in collaboration with the Margibi County Health Team has carried out a three days COVID -19 vaccination campaign for its employees.
The company has also donated sanitary materials and COVID 19 preventive materials including nose masks among the over 5000 families at its plantation and environs.
It can be recalled that back in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, SRC management joined the Liberian government and health partners in creating a massive awareness campaign on the pandemic in its plantation and surrounding communities, which gained a very fruitful result.
The Salala Rubber Corporation which is the only company in the area, in its bid to ensure sustained food security in the area, provides rice subsidies to its employees that directly benefits over 5000 families members and as well as communities. In addition, it also donates rice during two major festive seasons, (July 26 Independence Day and December 25, Christmas Day), for over seventy-five towns and villages within and around its concession.
The company owned health and educational facilities in the area, is immensely complementing the government’s efforts in the area as locals are referred to it for medical needs and while local children are allowed to attend the company’s school.
At the same time, residents have applauded the company for its intervention and resumption of its operation in the area. In separate interviews, residents lauded SRC’s management for the initiative and said the company’s intervention has helped alleviate fear and support in case of a lockdown.
Cecelia Tengbeh, a local trader in Baypolue Town is grateful that the company has resumed operation and said the recent closure of the company’s operations created serious economic hardship for her business and family.
“When the company closed, businesses were going slow. People were not buying, thus affecting my income,” Tengbeh asserted.
According to her, things have improved since the company resumed operations, noting “things have changed since they started work.”
For his part, Akoi Jaygbaye, who operates a commercial motorcycle, said it was very challenging for cyclists when the company halted its operations some time ago.
“Life became very unbearable for us. We were not receiving passengers. We could hardly make LRD 600 a day. We depend on resources we get from riding a bike to care for our family,” he told journalists in Weala.
Augustine Juwoo, Financial Secretary of a local motorcycle union in the area said, “SRC is their only breadbasket.”
Juwoo indicated that the closing of the company’s operation was compared to shutting down the local economy and said it greatly affected their livelihood. With the company resumption of its operations, it ensures job security for all of us that live in the community.
“To tell the truth, our lives were shaken economically and were seriously challenged on all fronts, thereby creating real hardship for us,” he noted.
Juwoo lauded the company for returning and also initiating activities that are contributing to the income and livelihoods of local people.