A former Sinoe County legislative aspirant, Geleplay Nuensuah, is blaming the recent violence at the oil plantation Golden Veroleum Liberian in Sinoe County on a lawmaker in whose district the palm oil company operates its Butaw farm site of 2,500 hectares.
Appearing on Truth Breakfast show broadcast on Truth FM 96.1 in Paynesville on Wednesday, June 3, Mr. Nyensuah claimed district Representative Jefferson Karmon played carelessness about educating his people on what is contained in the agreement signed between the government and the company.
He claimed the lawmaker should have been the first person to begin negotiation with his people when the crisis was looming.
On 26 May, a group of Sinoe youth under the banner “Butaw Youth Association or BYA,” staged a riot against the concession company in demand of meeting with a visiting official, allegedly wounding Liberia’s Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf and hospitalizing two of the company’s employees.
GVL said its rice ware-house was looted; housing units for employees broke into and vandalized, but the value of the losses were still being assessed.
Government has charged 23 suspects with criminal mischief to commit murder, rioting, armed robbery, and aggravated assault following the incident. Eighteen of those charged have been sent to court in the county while five others are on the run.
Mr. Nyensuah condemned the act of the young people because he said violence was not the way out, recalling the violent acts in the 1980s that he said caused so much damage here, including the killing of a sitting Liberian President.
However, he wondered why a lawmaker would sit in Monrovia and busied himself on ECOWAS Parliamentary matters when crisis involving his direct employers – the electorate from his district and a concession company could not be amicably resolved to avert such a deadly riot that was witnessed.
Comparing the Butaw scenario with the riot that occurred at the ArcelorMittal facilities in Nimba County about two years ago, he said the representative of that district in Nimba was the first on the scene, though he could not end the story as to why he got arrested by police.
Since the GVL Butaw riot, Mr. Geleplay is worried that for roughly more than a week, old-aged –folks – mothers and fathers – continue to remain in perpetual hiding in bushes after the deployment of armed officers of the police Emergency Response Unit or ERU.
“Government needs to do everything possible to bring the people back to town so that they can go by their normal business,” he pleaded.
He suggested that when the Executive come with investors to do business here, it is left to the lawmakers, who are direct representatives of the people to seek the best interest of their citizens in whatever contract that is signed and ratified by the Legislature.
Beyond that, he suggested that they lawmakers should also be in the position to go back to their districts and tell the people what’s in the agreement, reminding that companies come to make profits.
As such, he said they would stop at nothing even if they will have to hide the agreement signed with government and operate in a way to accrue more profits, once they are to deal with an uninformed community.
Unlike other places where he says Golden Veroleum operates, he claims that the company transports workers in tractors in Butaw to work, terming it a “hard extreme” faced by the locals at the hands of the company. By Winston W. Parley – Edited by Jonathan Browne