To Deal With Sime Darby Crisis, Local Officials Want Gov’t Deploy More Police Officer At Gbah-Jekeh

localIn an effort to mitigate the ‘insecurity’ at the Sime Darby Plantation in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties, citizens and residents of the host communities are calling for an increase in the presence of police officers in Gbah- Jekeh town.

The concern citizens’ call comes in the wake of recent violent protests at the company’s oil palm plantation that destroyed more than 113 hectares of matured palm trees. The palm trees were completely burned down by angry demonstrators.

The destruction occurred following the disappearance of one lady, Kumba Fallah who went for treatment at the health facilities of the company two weeks ago. After she was treated and discharged she was not seen by relatives and friends. Some relatives raised alarm saying that she had gone missing; and accused the company of being responsible. The government deployed police officers to at the plantation to restore calm. After hours, the lady was seen in a nearby place, in one of the estates alive. She along with other people were arrested by police.

This is not the first time for people to carry out demonstration at the plantation. In the past, they have carried out similar act in which several thousands worth of properties were damaged. Many residents in the area said one of the ways to mitigate the problem is increase the presence of police officers in Gbah-Jekeh. Some residents also said it would be advisable to have police depot as well. Similar method was applied in the past when BF-Good ridge occupied the plantation several years ago.

According to the citizens, headed by the superintendent, chiefs, commissioners and elders, if the Liberian Government increases the number of police officers, particularly members of the ‘elite group’, the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and the Police Support Unit (PSU), it will help raid the hideouts of criminal ‘gangs’ and drugs traffickers and users.

Earlier, a group of concern citizens of Bomi County who had gone to identify with the company following the disastrous situation said until Gbah-Jekeh is raided through a joint security operation, the criminals will continue to create havoc for the company.

They further noted that due to the productive period of the company in that part of the country through its effectiveness to its corporate social responsibilities and other extra activities being carried out, there is a need for the Liberian Government to do all it can to protect the company and its staff.

The Bomi County’s citizens who were later joined by local officials of the county said there is a need for the government to construct a police depot at the plantation that will help raid the Gbah-Jekeh community occupied by ‘criminal gangs’.

This, they said the Liberian National Police (LNP) in collaboration with the company’s security officers will regularly patrol the plantation at all times to ensure the protection of lives and properties. Citizens of Bomi County last week joined the rest of Liberians to denounce mob justice with a pledge to always work in close partnership with the police in handling their grievances.

The commitment was made Monday, April 11, 2016, in Sime Darby Plantation, Bomi County which is noted to be a place of frequent demonstrations. Prior to the calamities at the plantation, Bomi County Superintendent Samuel Browne alarmed over the growing number of drug centers in Gbah Town, Klay District.

Superintendent Brown said due to the growing number of ‘ghettos’ in these areas, he fears that the young people could get involved and eventually become hooked on drugs.

According to Superintendent Browne, if nothing is done to disband the many drug centers in the county, it will damage the future of the young people and will scare away potential investors to the county.

When contacted a senior officer of the police on the possible deployment at the plantation, the officer said, “it is the work of government to protect investment at all times here. Once the order is given, it will be done.”

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About Cholo Brooks 13527 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.