By R. Joyclyn Wea
Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL) and other concession companies in Liberia are calling on the government of Liberia to ensure security due to unwarranted happenings at various concession areas in the country.
The companies said despite the challenges confronting their operations in the country, they continue to ensure development activities in their operational areas.
They said some of the initiatives of the companies are done outside of their concession agreements signed with the Liberian Government, but continues to face serious security issues.
Speaking at a one-day Multi-stakeholders Dialogue between the National Bureau of Concessions and the concessions affected communities in order to ensure sustainable peace and harmony in the concession areas; Internal Affairs Minister, Varney Sirleaf disclosed that he has been acknowledged of an alleged assault on security of the Sime Darby Plantation.
“We received a call from the Sime Darby Plantation that their security officers were being assaulted by unknown people who believe to be residents of the communities where the plantation is; and we have to move in immediately to find situation to the matter,” Minister Sirleaf said.
The forum was hosted by NBC with support from USAID through the Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative to ensure an enabling environment between concession companies and communities where these companies operate. Minister Sirleaf further noted that he was asked by shareholders of the plantation to help find a buyer for the plantation because of some of the many challenges including theft and conflict the company had and continue to face.
According to the Internal Affairs Minister, this could scare other investors away.
Sam Fallah Communication Officer of the plantation stressed the need for the government to live up to it part of the agreement as well as the concession companies.
He stated that concessionaires cannot do everything for the communities saying “the expectation from citizens are high; they heavily depend on the concession companies.”
According to some of the concession companies who spoke at the event on October 10, particularly the Liberia Agriculture company (LAC), concession companies understand their role in developing the country, but are in the country to make profit not operating a charitable organization.
“Everyone must know their role in order to understand the other partners, so there should be a demarcation of what concessions have to do.
“Expectation is very high; anticipation from community is on the increase. We have an obligation to the surrounding communities especially those we have partners with over the years and we think the issue of dialogue is the best situation. We realize that the more you engage the communities, the better it going to be. We will not be in the position to do everything, but, we have been doing a very good job,” LAC CEO said.
For his part, the National Investment Commission Director General, Gregory Coleman said they as government would provide the enabling environment where these concessionaires and communities can operate.
He added that the concession sector in Liberia had make progress in term of health, education and contribution to revenue generation saying “Liberia should not be seemed as a place where justices compromise in order to attract more investors.
They want citizens disengage from illegal activities with in areas where these concessions are operating and the need for continue dialogue among concession companies, government and the citizens in order to find a very peaceful environment that everyone live.