The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Concession, Bomi County senator Sando Johnson warns citizens of the county to avoid inciting students to demonstrate against the Sime Darby Plantation, stressing that if there were issues, they should be discussed.
He spoke on Wednesday, 24 January 2018 at his capitol building office in Monrovia when the manager of the company paid him a visit. Recently, a group of students staged a protest against the company’s alleged inability to provide seven buses to transport them to school.
The company has been transporting students from two towns to school but reduced the number of buses to three. There were seven buses but four were not in good condition and the company needed to replace them for safety reason.
SDPL says it took the decision after management realized that the buses were defective and not road worthy. Due to that, management decided to negotiate with a different transportation company to transport the students.
“We want the public to understand that Sime Darby has lived up to her promise to enable our students to go to school on time in the both counties. To transport students from the two counties is very tedious. We need to engage the company in a constructive manner, but we will not support people inciting the students against the management of the company to carry out violent activities. We are not saying that all will be bread and butter, but if there is any pitfall, we can sit and discuss the situation. If there is any reason Sime Darby had to leave Liberia today, there are over 4,000 plus people working there. Who is going to provide jobs for them? No senator or representative has the capacity to employ that number of people,” Senate Johnson explains.
The General Manager for Sime Darby Liberia, Mr. David Parker, says the company would continue to provide buses in good condition to the students as their safety was paramount concern.
Mr. Parker notes that complaints about the buses being not road worthy were issues raised by parents and some students, which highlights the need to improve the transportation services, adding that it was based on such that the company decided to hire a different transportation services.
The situation has been resolved and students are going to school.
Sime darby Plantation’s operations in Liberia are managed by Sime Darby Plantation (Liberia) Inc. A Malaysian-run firm, the company signed a 63-year concession agreement with the Government of Liberia to develop 220,000 hectares of land in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Bong counties into oil palm and rubber.
-Editing by Jonathan Browne