The new Chief Executive Officer or CEO for the Malaysian-owned Sime Darby Plantation in Liberia has promised to adapt a policy of engagement as an effective strategy in interacting with various stakeholders, including citizens, government and the media on activities of the company.
Mr. Rosli Mohamed Taib said Sime Darby Plantation is here to stay and disclosed that management looks forward to commence harvesting and processing its palm crop into finished products by November this year.
Speaking with editors and correspondents over the weekend at a local restaurant in Sinkor, Monrovia CEO Taib said due to Ebola outbreak in Liberia last year, the company suspended several activities, including construction of a staff headquarters on the plantation.
However, he added that palm mills or machinery for the processing of palm nuts into finished products are being assembled in Malaysia and would be ready within two years. Mr. Taib also disclosed that a medium size mills for the plantation is being acquired and would be operational by August or September, pending arrival of the bigger mills in Liberia in two years.
The Malaysian company scaled down operations following the devastated outbreak of Ebola here last year, but has maintained 2,800 local workers, who continue to receive benefits, including subsidized food and free healthcare.
“Liberia is going through a very difficult time and SDPL made the decision to continue operations and maintain local staff strength despite scaling back. Hopefully, we will be free of Ebola this year and full operations can resume. Sime Darby wants to continue with its plans as a long-term investor,” said Roslin Azmy Hassan, Head of Operations for SDPL.
SDPL worked closely with local communities, civil society organizations, and Ebola Treatment Centres to provide much needed food, fuel, chlorine and other medical supplies, while ensuring strict precautionary measures to guard SDPL employees from contracting the virus.
Furthermore, the company established a partnership with Red Cross in Liberia and donated $157,000 in support of its program in Grand Cape Mount and Bomi counties as well as 5.7 million medical gloves worth $157,000 to the Government of Liberia.
The company had planted 10,035 hectares of oil palm and 107hectares of rubber as of last year under an agreement with the Government of Liberia to develop about 220,000 hectares of land for 63 years. -By Jonathan Browne