Armed officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police have deployed in the Cocopa Rubber Plantation along the Ganta-Saclepea highway in electoral district#8, Nimba County, as over 500 former employees of the plantation threatened to protest this Thursday, 19 July in demand of salaries and benefits, totaling about US$1 million.
The head for the former workers union, George Kruah explains to the New Dawn Nimba County Correspondent that Thursday’s demonstration will be the last on the plantation. “We either live or die that day”, he vows.
According to him, they had engaged both the management of the rubber plantation, including county administration headed by Superintendent Dorr Cooper and the Government of Liberia, but the authorities do not seem to care about their plight.
The former employees demanding benefits worked with the plantation during the 1990s. They have vowed not to leave the plantation this Thursday until their demand is addressed.
Mr. Kruah says they have resolved that they either get paid or police shoot at them, as they would not leave the premises, saying, “We have engaged them but they are fooling us.’’
This paper gathers that former Cocopa employees threatening to stage this protect are expected to come from all parts of Liberia, not only Nimba County.Some of the aggrieved former employees are no longer alive, but their children are among those making demands.
During the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Government of Liberia reportedly provided over US$2 Million to the Cocopa Management headed by former Managing Director for the Forestry Development Authority, Harrison Karnwea, during which time the plantation was renamed Nimba Rubber Incorporated.
The New Dawn Nimba County Correspondent, who visited the plantation, says there is heavy presence of armed ERU officers, creating fear among residents of communities near the plantation.
Some panic-stricken residents are said to be packing and leaving due to what many say may turn bloody on Thursday, as the aggrieved former employees have vowed not to give in despite the presence of armed state security.This impending protest at Cocopa would bring to five, such demonstrations at the plantation, since 2006, most of which had ended in violence.
By Thomas Domah/Nimba--Editing by Jonathan Browne