More than 500 employees at Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL) are currently moving into the company’s newly completed modern housing complex, in Grand Cape Mount County.
Head of Media and Communication, David Kolleh, said the initiative is geared towards closing down most of the old camps within its current operation area which have already outlived their usefulness.
Kolleh further said, most of the old schools which were within the camps have also been closed down and students are being moved into central schools.
The completion of modern housing units for plantation workers in Grand Cape Mount County, Western Liberia, is in fulfillment of the Concession Agreement that was signed in 2009 with the Liberian Government.
The once volatile plantation area which was formerly occupied by rebel forces during the last half of the Liberian Civil war under the ex-Guthrie Rubber Plantation became a no-go area for more than 14 years due to the civil conflict, until the coming of Sime Darby more than four years ago.
During collective bargaining between management and employees, authorities of Sime Darby agreed that as part of ensuring a better working condition for plantation workers within their concession area, it will provide better housing and other facilities for its employees.
The Matambo Estate, according to authorities of the company, has at least 23 blocks or 184 housing units. Each unit of eight apartments has three bedrooms for each family size within the employed of the company.
“Each of the apartments is designed with a living room, a kitchen, inside bathroom plus a porch. Each apartment has running water, making it a complete modern piece,” said Kolleh.
Management says it has plan to construct about 88 housing estates when the company is fully operational in almost 60 different new locations, depending on the availability of more land and expansion of operation in the next 20 years.
Several plantation workers also expressed joy for their new homes and praised the management for helping to restore their lost hope within a relatively short while why in Liberia.
Bendu Golafile, wife one of the workers said her new living quarter makes her to feel like an elite. “This our new house make me to feel like we’re big shorts,” Bendu said with smiles.
Matambo Estate contains modern clinic, daycare center, and junior high school, mosque, church, supermarket along with a recreational center for various sports, including football, basketball, among others.
During a visit at Sime Darby plantation in November 2013 to dedicate a school for community residents, Finance, Planning and Development Minister Amara Konneh, lauded the management of Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL) for what he termed ‘development in practice.’
Minister Konneh said, “If you want to see some of the fruits of the 16 billion dollars Foreign Direct Investment that this government brought to Liberia, visit Sime Darby!”
Sime Darby is the largest employer in western Liberia, with a workforce size of almost 3,000 permanent workers besides contractors.