Several citizens of Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties especially, in GolodeeLansana, Bomi county have already started missing the workings of Sime Darby Plantation Liberia after they heard that the company was turning to a new operator.
Specifically, in GolodeeLasana Town in Bomi County, it was a colorful event characterized by sorrow when the former General Manager of SDPL Mr. Ali Kamal Hassan arrived with the Chief Excutie Officer of MPOI, Asaad Fidel to make an official introduction.
“We will miss SDPL. This is one company that we have been working with for the past years. We hope that the new company that is coming here will be like Sime Darby or more than then, said Mr. AbdullaiNavoe, an eminent citizen of the town.
All gathered in a building, one could see some citizens in groups saying, “We will miss our people. They suppose to remain here. If that land, we will give it to them today. But, we hope that the new company that is coming will do better.”
Without holding his breath, the Clan Chief of Gorblah Clan, Chief SakamudSamukai assured the company of their continued support to serve as security for the new company that is coming, as they have done to Sime Darby in the past.
“The same way we treated Sime Darby is the way we will treat you. Once you hold us good, we will hold you good. But we want to say here that we will miss SDPL. We will miss Ali Kamal our son. We in this clan have no issue with Chief Samukai. [He] said they are very sad that Sime Darby is leaving Liberia, but note they are ready to work with the new company, Mano Palm Oil Industries (MPOI).
“We will protect the new company. We are proud to be receiving new company,” he said.
Sime Darby has been operating in Liberia since 2009 following a 63-year concession agreement they signed with the Government of Liberia to plant 220 hectares of land with palm oil. But since then, the company has only planted 10,000 hectares of palm, but continues to provide other services and at the same time incurring other expenses.
However, with the situation at hand, the company transferred all of its responsibilities through marketing agreement with the Mano Palm Oil Industry. This means Sime Darby Plantation Liberia has no control over the farm again.
The citizens said, it was regreattable for the company to leave when it has invested huge sums of money. The Chief said, they were prepared to provide over two thousand hectors of land to the company anytime.
“For us, we have land now. We have told you in the past that we are ready to give you two thousand acres of land today. But we will give the land to them once they want it,” he added.
Mr. AbdullaiNavoe who hails from the clan said, they were frustrated that Sime Darby was leaving Liberia.
“We are grateful because some of our citizens have been working with the company. Our children are going to the company’s school, although some of us [are] not working with them. The company built us hand pumps and repaired some existing ones. Besides, the company has been providing medical service for us,” Navoe said.
Navoe adds that 71 of the citizens are serving as security officers for the company and they have been doing well, helping to guard the company’s Plantation from thieves.
Thieves have been taking away the palm of SDPL for the past years taking it to private mills. There are several illegal mills operating around the plantation, contrary to the concession agreement.
But at Golodee, such criminal activities do not exist there.
Mr. Ali Kamal was gowned along with the Chief Executive Officer of Mano Palm Oil Industries (MPOI), Assad R. Fadel In response, the outgoing General Manager of Sime Darby Plantation Liberia, Ali Kamal Hassan said the company is handling responsibilities to MPOI and nothing will change and as such, the citizens shouldn’t panic.
“I feel at home here. The clan has been very supportive and very unique to our investments. This is uniqueness of the clan. I pray that the relationship will continue with MPOI. We have to remember that concession leaders come and go and it’s normal. Everything is temporary and we need to embrace new people,” Kamal said.
“The partner will continue this legacy of SDPL and will accelerate and so, let’s hold together to continue the legacy and support the new company,” Kamal added.
In Grand Cape County, many residents who turned up to interact with the new company manager, said, “They would miss SDPL. That it was sad for the company to leave when yields are coming up well. We hope that one day, you will come back. You will be welcome. Remember Sime Darby, this is your home,” one Esther said.Editing b Jonathan Browne