In the wake of recent hullabaloos involving the Malaysian investor Sime Darby Plantation Liberia, several citizens of Bomi County are calling on the government to protect the investment in the county.
Speaking to a team of reporters on a fact-finding mission in Damah, Gbah, Tubmanburg and other towns and villages in Bomi over the weekend, they expressed worry about recent developments at the plantation and want the government to intervene not only by investigating the circumstances on the plantation, but taking actions to protect the investor as well.
Alieu Kromah, speaking in Gbah town notes that Sime Darby is the only major source of employment providing livelihood for hundreds of citizens of Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties; therefore, they as citizens fear that the incidents could discourage the company from improving on its investment.
He says they do support the action of the lawmakers to investigate the incident, which will be good for everyone, but it is wrong to have a one sided view of issues.
“Government can’t do all, we can see how people are fighting for government jobs, therefore, we want government to come and help protect Sime Darby so that the company can remain here”, said Kromah.
Tenneh Swary, a resident of Damah town expresses similar view when she reiterates that the people of Bomi need Sime Darby at this time. “Look at the whole of Bomi, without Sime Darby, how people will survive, when they just be behind this company, when the company leave, we will really suffer”, she cautions.
Tenneh discloses that as a marketer, there is nowhere in Bomi county where business is better than the Sime Darby Plantation area especially in Gbah. “When you go to Tubmanburg, they can’t even buy your goods but when you come to Gbah, once Sime Darby people taking pay, at least you can sell something. So, we want Sime Darby more than anything in this county”, she adds.
Zinnah Foday, an elderly man and a resident of Tubmanburg says he does not like the developments taking place at Sime Darby at the moment.Foday wants government to treat the Sime Darby situation the same way it did with Arcellor Mittal in Nimba and Golden Veroleum in Sinoe, respectively.
“When the same things happening here now happened at Mittal, the former President was angry with the citizens and said their county development fund will be used to pay for the company properties, that was very good to protect the company, so let this government help us to protect Sime Darby too”, he says.
He frowns at some youth of Bomi County whom blames for creating problems for the investors.“Our young people these days, they have serious problem, the company have many people working, why should you go and steal their palm. Some of these young people are spoiling the county’s name and it is not good.”
Christopher Seh, a student of the University of Liberia from Bomi County calls on citizens of Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties to show some support for Sime Darby because the company is bringing economic vibrancy to their areas.
“If we discourage investors and they leave, who suffers, the citizens, because without jobs, poverty becomes the order of the day. This is a give and take situation, if the company is doing anything bad, you can try to stop it, but not to come so hard on them that they will feel discourage and want to leave”, Seh noted.
He believes that some bad decisions are affecting the company and calls on Sime Darby to look at its current management structure to see who is making bad decisions that are now threatening its investment.
“I think somebody is not doing the right thing. In time past, when there is such situation, it is easily handled between Sime Darby management and the people, but this one has escalated so, you can see that decision making is playing a major part”, She suspects.
The House of Representatives last Thursday charged Sime Darby Plantation Liberia with contempt for allegedly lying under oath in connection with a video footage in which a suspected criminal is mal-handled.
The lawmakers have instructed the company to appear tomorrow, Tuesday, 24 April with its lawyer to state why it should not be held in contempt. They took the decision here after the SDPL Management reportedly refused to explain what it knows about the video posted on social media.
-Editing by Jonathan Browne