More than 300 Citizens of Du–Wolee and Nyennue communities, including youth, elders, women’s groups, district and county authority representatives welcomed agreement being reached for Golden Veroleum Liberia’s (GVL)oil palm operations to come to the area after more than 3 years ofnegotiation. This was confirmed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding incorporating a Social Agreement on 11 June 2016 in Panama, Du- Wolee Nyennue Township, Kpanyan Statutory District, Sinoe County.
It is anticipated that the signing of this land development agreement with GVL will provide more than 200 jobs for the community’s citizens and other eligible persons. In addition, the agreement provides for the construction and rehabilitation of roads, schools and hand pumps, as well as other social benefits.
At the signing ceremony, GVL Regional Controller for Sinoe East, Manohyaran Pillai and the Manager for Sustainability in Sinoe East, Roosevelt Wleh, said negotiations in Du Wolee started in 2013 following the community’s invitation for GVL to develop oil palm in the area. Mr. Pillai thanked all attendees and maintained that as the agreement is signed, land development and employment of community citizens will commence in the shortest possible time.
Stanley Carter, president of the Golden Veroleum Agriculture workers’ Union of Liberia, GOVAWUL, described the signing of the agreement in Du- Wolee as a remarkable day and urged the community to value the development opportunity that they have brought to the community and protect the investment. Mr. Carter said that the community should commit itself to working with GVL to realise their development aims. If they are not happy, they should channel any complaints through proper grievance channels managed by the company’s community affairs team or through the uniont. Carter asked the county administration to be diligent in providing good guidance to the community during the setting up of operations.
Du-Wolee Nyennue Commissioner Ramsey Snoh, lauded GVL and the county authority for the level of commitment to the community. Commissioner Ramsey said that he strongly believes with GVL operation, the lives of the community will progressively change for the good. Hon. Snoh offered prayers for the cordial working relationship and fulfillment of the agreement which will now improve their lives. Hon. Snoh then presented the agreement to the county superintendent Hon. Prosper Brown signifying that the community is aware of all conditions in the MOU and willing to put their signatures to the agreement.
Sinoe County Superintendent Prosper Brown began by thanking God for the economic impact GVL is having on the county and the creation of employment opportunities in areas which have not seen growth since the birth of the republic. “We appreciate GVL for accepting the challenge to work here. I personally wish to thank our Du-Wolee citizens also for having the vision to improve livelihoods, after four years of negotiation, you have to come to one understanding today.” Superintendent Brown said.
Hon. Brown pledged to do all he can in his power as head of the county administration to work with GVL and the community in extending and protecting the benefits that the investment is bringing, through development and infrastructure improvement, to the people of Sinoe and Southeast Liberia. Superintendent Brown concluded by challenging the citizens of Du–Wolee to take their own responsibility for the investment as they are direct beneficiaries.
Speaking at the ceremony, the head of UNMIL civil Affairs, Madam Lukena Lasu, the Sinoe County Attorney, Counsellor Panto Jarba and the public defender Attorney Blayee Nyantee thanked the community and GVL for the peaceful relationship between both parties during the negotiation process and advised that such friendship should continue during the operation.
UNMIL also supported the goal of peaceful development and relationships. “As UNMIL is pulling out, we want development to remain and these are things that we want to hear and see, we are very happy.” Lukena Lasu, head of UNMIL civil Affairs said.
In separate remarks, the Agriculture Coordinator of Sinoe County, Godwin Necolins and Richard Toby, Sr. a Monrovia based citizen of the township, described the company’s entry into Du-Wolee Nyennue as a dream come true after the lengthy negotiation.
“This started long ago and it is because no development NGO has ever accepted to undertake large-scale agricultural projects in this country, despite several efforts. So, GVL efforts to extend oil palm development here means you have development, and we are glad”, said Necolins.
Godwin Necolins and Richard Toby urged the young people of Du-Wolee Nyennue communities to foster their education as the GVL agreement is for an initial 65 years in accordance with the Concession Agreement and, with education, they can be future managers of GVL and even establish their own businesses.
The program was climaxed with a soccer match at the Panama sports pitch between GVL and Du-Wolee soccer team which ended with a goalless draw. Golden Veroleum Liberia is a major investor in Sinoe and Grand Kru counties with approximately 3,600 employees, most of whom are partner community citizens. In Sinoe, GVL is operating in Butaw, Tarjuowon, Numopoh, Tartweh and Nitrain communities. With the signing of the agreement, Du-Wolee Nyennue has now been added to the list. In Grand Kru, GVL is operating in a number of communities, including Sorroken, Wedabo and Garraway areas. Residents of these communities are benefiting from road access, rehabilitation and construction of schools, provision of safe drinking water and other basic social services. GVL is determine to bring sustainable development to Liberia, especially in the southeastern counties, as part of its investment in and commitment to Liberia.