By Lincoln G Peters
The consortium of rubber planters with support from the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) have protested demanding outgoing President George Manneh Weah to revoke an Executive Order that halts unprocessed rubber export.
They held the protest Friday, 22 December 2023 on the grounds of the Capitol, petitioning the Legislature to prevail on the Executive for the revocation of Executive Order #124.
At the same time, the protesters described the Executive Order as “evil” and did not represent the will of the people of Liberia, in particular rubber farmers.
In early December, President Weah issued Executive Order #124, placing a ban on the exportation of unprocessed rubber from Liberia.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, Petitioners most respectfully request the Honorable Legislature to do the following: To revoke Executive Order #124 as it deprives Petitioners the right to livelihood and discourages free trade and competition,” they pleaded.
They also petitioned the Legislature to declare Executive Order #124 as an order against the fundamental rights and survival of Petitioners in particular and Liberians in general.
Reading their twenty counts petition statement, James W. Sayekiaye, National President of the Rubber Brokers Association stated that the petition is to caution the Legislature to use its authority to ensure the welfare of Liberian citizens through appropriate policies of the Government of Liberia.
At the same time, they want the Legislature to ensure that policies counter-productive to the welfare of Liberian citizens are revoked.
According to Sayekiaye, the group in their argument cited Articles Eight and Nine of the Liberian Constitution as their reliance to call for the revoking of Executive Order #124.
“Article Eight provides that, “The Republic shall direct its policy towards ensuring for all citizens without discrimination, opportunities for employment and livelihood under just and humane conditions, and towards promoting safety, health and welfare facilities in employment,” he stated.
He furthered that article nine provides, “The Republic shall encourage the promotion of bilateral and regional cooperation between and among Liberia and other nations and the formation and maintenance of regional organizations aimed at the cultural, social, political and economic development of the peoples of Africa and other nations of the world.”
Among the twenty counts petition, the head of the group explained that Executive Order #124 is counter-productive to the welfare of the conglomerate of Liberian rubber planters, brokers, exporters, truckers, and forwarding agents in the rubber industry of Liberia.
He said the affected groups are employers of thousands of Liberians and rely heavily on rubber for livelihood.
Sayekiaye indicated that amidst the high unemployment and economic hardship
facing Liberians, the rubber industry has been a source of vivid empowerment to Liberians.
He added that the sector employs thousands of Liberians, unskilled and skilled laborers, for which the rubber industry has been the source of survival for many Liberians.
Sayekiaye disclosed that neighboring Ivory Coast is now the highest exporter of both processed and unprocessed rubber in Africa and that Ivory Coast has more than 50 rubber processing plants, yet the neighboring country exports about a million tons of rubber a year.
He continued that the economy of the Ivory Coast is flourishing because the rubber farmers from the Ivory Coast are benefiting from the competition existing within the rubber industry.
Sayekiaye revealed that because of the competition created by the exportation of rubber, Ivorian Rubber farmers have options to sell and are now extending their farms and opening abundant farms.
At the same time, he stated that a similar thing is now happening in Liberia as rubber farms are now operational due to the competition that existed a few months back.