Protests stall Investment -President Sirleaf
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has disclosed that the persistence protests, destruction of properties of investors and holding of placards in the streets of Monrovia and other parts of the country are contributing factors to slow investments in the country.
Speaking at the official commissioning of a Plastic bottling of the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Paynesville City, outside Monrovia on Monday, President Sirleaf said if Liberians wanted investments here, the need for citizens to do away with destruction of properties belonging to private investors and reduction in protests cannot be over-emphasized.
“Because of the presence of placards regularly in the streets, investors may not want to show up. Our investors will not develop interest for real investment, if the destruction of their properties cannot also stop – it stops foreign investors from coming here,” she said.
Though President Sirleaf failed to name or state some of the factors that lead to rotests, It can be recalled that last year some youths of Nimba County stormed the facilitates of Acelor Mittal in a violence, destroying some properties of the company.
They also reportedly damaged the only bridge connecting the company to the rest of the county. According to her, the two major exports of the country – Rubber and Iron Ore, were experiencing reduction in prices on the world market, suggesting that the country must now begin new ventures in other areas, including agriculture.
The Liberian leader indicated that investments already in the country, including Coca-Cola should expand operations. She urged the company – in the country for 100 years now, to progress towards producing juices and other soft drinks to help strength and gives the Liberian economy a boost.
She noted that if Coca-Cola is urged to produce juices, Liberians must also be prepared to grow fruits to make production easy for the company. The president’s comments come in the wake of recent protests by some students of the University of Liberia against the expulsion of one of their colleagues by the administration of the university.
She also noted that since the end of the deadly Ebola outbreak here, the commissioning of the new form of Coca-Cola was the first vote of confidence in the Liberian economy and that the government was very appreciative to the Coca-Cola family.
Madam Sirleaf also appreciated the Liberia Company for the level of confidence in the country by the establishment of such venture. She called on the employees and contractors to be dedicated to their jobs as the company depends on such dedication for progress and possible expansion. “I also hope that Liberia will soon start to export some of the products from to the world,” she told the gathering.
The new investment includes a new US$5.7 plastic bottling line, a new science and technology school and the Coca-Cola Africa foundation’s official commissioning of five new water health centers to provide safe access to over 51,000 Liberians.
The company, in written statement issued to the media during the official commissioning ceremony at the LCCBC head office in Paynesville, indicated that the LCCBC bottling company’s first PET bottling line has already begun production.
According to the statement, the capabilities will expand Coca-Cola’s beverages, including more convenient plastic bottles for Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and water, while the facility will serve as a regional export hub for Sierra and Guinea.
The statement added that about 7,500 direct and indirect employment opportunities will be created over the next five years across Coca-Cola locally sourced supply-chain of distributors, retailers and material suppliers.
“Liberia may have been fractured by the tragedy of Ebola over the last year, but its spirit of optimism ambitions and progress will never be broken.
Coca-Cola has been ever present in Liberia for over 65 years and our commitment to investing in economic and social remains as strong as ever as we increase our contribute to supporting sustainable growth of both of both our business and the communities we serve its safe water for Africa program,” said Alex Cummings, Executive Vice President of Coca-Cola.
A total of seven new centers will be inaugurated by the end of 2015, providing safe, clean water access and sanitation to total of 61,000 Liberians.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by George Barpeen