LIBERIA: Gov’t, NGO To Probe SRC, Villagers Row

The Government and local environmental group Green Advocate have agreed to investigative the standoff between the Salala Rubber Corporation (SRC) and villagers in the company's concession area.

According to the Liberia News Agency, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Administration, Varney Sirleaf made the disclosure Thursday at a meeting in Gorgbor Town.

He said the Government and Green Advocate have also agreed to hire the services of an international firm to be named shortly to conduct the investigation.

The SRC management has consented to shoulder the cost of the audit.According to Deputy Minister Sirleaf, the audit will include allmonies spent by the company to pay for the crops of villagers, as well as the survey of all land that falls within the SRC concession area.

It can be recalled that villagers and the Management of SRC have been locked in serious disagreement over payment for damaged crops.

This situation led to a strike action by the villagers in demand of compensation for their crops that were damaged as a result of SRC’s plantation expansion.

The villagers accused the company of damaging their crops, polluting their waterways and desecrating their sacred shrines, among other offences.

The recent strike action culminated in an arson attack on a portion of the plantation and SRC management has put the cost of damages it sustained to nearly a million dollars.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Green Advocate Alfred Brownell,who is also representing the legal interest of the villagers, has called on the protesting villagers to exercise restraint.

He assured them that every effort would be exerted to ensure that they receive just benefits for the losses sustained.

At the same time, SRC management has assured the villagers that it will do whatever it takes to resolve the prevailing problem.

The Human Resource and Public Relations Manager, Jallah Mensah, said his management has been opting for a peaceful resolution to the long-running stand-off between SRC and the villagers.

Also speaking at the meeting, Deputy Executive Director of the National Bureau of Concession, Dixon Yarsiah, called on the villagers to remain calm while government looks into their problem.

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