With the final outcome of the long-awaited report from the crop compensation investigation process submitted on Thursday, many residents of the plantation, especially those from the affected communities said they will wait patiently for the company to revert to them.
Two members from the Project Affected Communities (PAC) who were part of the meeting on Thursday told some journalists after the meeting held at the Ministry of Internal Affairs that they were happy with the result and would wait for the company to give them a feedback.
The final report, the gentleman who did not want his name mention thanked Sime Darby Plantation Liberia and stake holders for successfully concluding the final report submitted by the Internal Investigation Committee (ICC).
This followed over a year and several months of investigations based on complaints filed by some residents from the Project Affected Communities (PAC) in Grand Cape Mount County.
He said, “we were happy about the outcome. For me, I am not the official spokesperson for the PAC. Many of us were happy about this final report today,’ one member of the group who disclosed this to the this paper said. He said the spokesperson will address the press soon on this.” When this paper called one of the persons from the PAC for comments, there was no answer.
Also, when the company was contacted for comment, an official (declined to be named) who attended the meeting said, “if people from the PAC are happy and commending the company, I have no comment for now. I will speak when the need arises and with approval from top management.”
The ICC submitted their final report to the Sustainable Oil Palm Initiative (SPI), a multi-stakeholder group of which SDPL is a part of.
At the end of the report, the person disclosed that “the ICC after investigation, saw that there was some payment about US$45,000 to crops owners while the Sime Darby Liberia also overpaid some farmers in the amount of US$17,000. So, they owed us big money and we owed them small money. But we pray that they will not deduct their money from us since we are their stranger father.”
“That is what we like. At least once we get good result in the future, we will benefit.”
After the investigation, the ICC recommended that for the sake of peace, Sime Darby Liberia should consider paying a token to the farmers even though the actual discrepancies discovered were minimum.
The source said, the money came through as a result of careful investigations of payment receipts and other documents submitted to the committee which comprised representatives from civil society, PAC, Government of Liberia.
“So, with that, the company said they will get back to their Headquarters on the way out. So, we will wait patiently. As the saying goes here, patient dog eat the fattest bone.
“From there, the SPI advised that we should remain patient as the Government of Liberia will now take up the matter for further action,” the source further said.
It all started from February 2010 and July 2011, when Sime Darby Plantation (Liberia) Inc. made crop compensation payments amounting to USD 1.36 million to 2,328 recipients after going through a tough process of crop checking based on the price list provided to the company by the Ministry of Agriculture of Liberia.
About five years later, in 2015, PAC demanded an additional payment of USD 2 million, claiming that they had been underpaid in 2010/2011 and in the interest of finding amicable solution to the problem SDPL provided fullest support for the establishment of the Crop Compensation Investigation Committee, including its proceedings and processes.