It was all smiles from the citizens of Zodua Clan, Garwula District in Grand Cape Mount County this week when they willingly authorized the management of Sime Darby Plantation Liberia Inc (SDPL) for expansion of the company’s operations in their clan.
This decision as prompted by the citizens due to plans by some groups to discourage them from granting the land to the company.
All the citizens said this is not the first time for such action to be taken, but it is the biggest of all and was necessary to encourage the company to move in. They said SDPL was dragging its feet to expand due to what the company said was trying to follow some international rules as its relates to High Carbon Stock Study.
So, Zodua’s citizens in a joint resolution signed by several heads of the clan unanimously authorized the Malaysian Oil Palm giant to enter the clan for its extension. The citizens have meanwhile authenticated their desire with the availability of 5,000 hectares of fertile land to the company.
In their eight counts resolution, the citizens said they have unanimously agreed to inform the management of Sime Darby that the clan is free from misunderstanding and united in good faith to welcome the management back to the clan for full operations.
“Whereas, the people of Zodua clan do realized that Sime Darby operations is helping our clan economically, socially and infrastructure wise. Since the coming of Sime Darby into Zodua clan, the livelihood of our people is improving through job creation especially for the young people who were unemployed and vulnerable,” the citizens said in a resolution.
The presentation was made to some officials of the company this week in Grand Cape Mount County. The citizens feel that they are being left out of all development work being carried out by the company in other parts of the county.
“We think that Sime Darby is here to develop this county and other counties as well. But we in Zodua are yet to feel the impact of the company. Look at the housing estate in Matambo and the new palm mill. We need to become part of the development and that is why we are eager for the company to come and start work. We also want to inform them that there will be no level of distraction here,” Eric Kemon, a resident of Cape Mount said recently.
In 2013, Sime Darby Plantation Liberia Inc (SDPL) received consent from the people of Zodua Clan to develop 5,000 hectares of land in Green-Fields of oil palm after more than three and half years of engagement and negotiations which included participatory mapping.
The resolution read:
“Whereas, Sime Darby has recognized the customary, traditional, ancestry rights of our people to their land in keeping with the laws of the Republic of Liberia and other international bodies’ including the United Nations (UN) Convention on the rights of the indigenous to their land,” the citizens added.
In order to avoid future embarrassment with the company, the Zodua’s citizens inserted into their resolution that any citizen who violates the rules and regulations of the agreement will be prosecuted in a court of competent jurisdiction.
“We the people of Zodua Clan including elders, traditional leaders, women group, youth and the Zodua land committee (ZLC) do hereby unanimously resolved to reject collaborating with any legal organization on this and all future work in our clan in the spirit of keeping our clan united and peaceful. However, it is important to note that Zodua Clan will welcome a genuine partner to carry on any transparent work in its clan that will not divide the people within the clan,” they noted.
At the same time, the leadership and citizens of Zodua Clan had agreed for three signatures on all correspondence to Sime Darby Management.
The three signatures include the Secretary of the Zodua Clan Land committee, the chairman of Zodua clan land committee and the General town chief of Zodua Clan, Garwula District.
In receiving the resolution the Deputy General manger, Mr. Zu thanked the citizens and said they would pass their resolution to the management team to discuss. “We want to thank you for this. From what you said, it looks like you the people of Zodua want us to move in there to start work. But as a company, we have to discuss this and take decision on what next to do,” he said
Sime Darby Plantation’s operations in Liberia are managed by Sime Darby Plantation (Liberia) Inc. The company signed a 63-year concession agreement with the Government of Liberia to develop 220,000 hectares of land in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Bong into oil palm and rubber plantations. To date, approximately 10,000 hectares in Grand Cape Mount and Bomi counties have been planted with oil palm according to the company.