Grand Cape Mount County Women Denounce Violence against Sime Darby

Women of Grand Cape Mount County who pledged their support to Sime Darby's operations
Women of Grand Cape Mount County who pledged their support to Sime Darby’s operations

Women of Grand Cape Mount County in the Western Region of Liberia have resolved to denounce any form of violence that will threaten peace and harmony in their county, especially

The Cape Mount women’s statement is an outcome of a two day seminar on the inheritance law and women rights held   over the weekend.

The workshop came as a result of heightened tension in the county over Sime Darby’s alleged failure to pay just compensation for the citizens damaged crops and the destruction of their inheritance and livelihoods.

The company had earlier paid  for the crops during the clearing of the land for planting.

The inheritance law conference which was held in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County brought together 18 women leaders and representatives of the seventeen Project Affected Communities (PACs) in the Sime Darby concession area.

The aggrieved PACs are claiming additional US$2million from Sime Darby Management as just benefits for their damaged crops.

Sime Darby Management for its part claimed it has already lived up to its commitment in settling the crisis, which has resulted into a stalemate.

But last week, all parties to the conflict signed a memorandum of understanding in which the PAC said they would not resort to violence anymore. That any problem with the company would be solved through dialogue.

However, following the latest inheritance workshop, the women of Cape Mount have committed themselves to engaging the affected communities in a peaceful manner in order to amicably resolve the crisis.

“I will encourage other citizens to come to our next meeting so that we can resolve these differences in order for us to live in peace and harmony. I will also discuss with them agreements reached at the meeting on the PAC money. Collectively, we’ll find a way out.”,” Ma Hawa Johnson of Kon Town, and Chairlady, of Lower Gawula District, Grand Cape Mount County pledged at the end of the workshop.

The Community Organized against Hunger (COAH), a Civil Society group which organized the meeting also presented copy of the inheritance law to participants at the seminar.

The Cape Mount citizens’ inheritance law conference also reached several conclusions and identified ways and means through which the PAC crisis can reach a peaceful resolution, as well as the call for unity amongst stakeholders and an agreement for the women to constantly engage the PAC Committee, which is charged with the obligation to resolve the crops compensation conflict.

The Cape Mount women, at the end of the seminar, also derived a recommendation for the constant engagement of a media strategy that will inform, educate and unite the citizens of Grand Cape Mount County.

As part of efforts to resolving the conflict with Sime Darby Management, the women underscored the critical need for cordial working relationship between citizens and Sime Darby Management and the affected communities as a whole.

A meeting held on the same subject with stakeholders in Sinje also called for calm amongst the contending parties as the Government tries to handle the crisis between the company and the affected PACs.

The Cape Mount citizens also suggested continual collaboration between civil society, the media and local county authorities as a way of fostering better cooperation and understanding amongst the citizens and Sime Darby Management.

“I will make sure to call meeting. We’ll do this through our regular traditional means such as dancing, cultural performance and sending out messages of peace and happiness to our people,”Ma Gbessay Manoballah, a resident of Timo Town, jubilantly told this paper after the inheritance meeting in Sinje.

During the conference, Cape Mount citizens also agreed to embark on house-to-house engagement with the affected PACs.

“In order to resolve this issue and reduce tension in the county, there is a need for us to network with the rest of the affected communities “Bendu Zayzay, resident of Madina #2 lower Garwula, Cape Mount County, suggested.

Meanwhile, the Management of Sime Darby Plantation says it will remain constructively engage with the local communities to ensure a success of their investment in Liberia.

Sime Darby Senior Manager on Land extension and security said measures are being instituted to ensure smooth relationship between the company and the locals.

Mohad Isa said the company will use its past experience to cement its relationship with the citizens through continuous engagement.

Mr. Isa told Journalists following a guided tour of the Company’s facilities Friday August 26, 2016 that the company will seek to balance the economic conditions of the locals with the expansion of the plantation.

The employees encouraged the locals to join forces with the company to enhance development in the Western Region.

At the same time, the Government of Liberia has launched an investigation into a recent protest at Sime Darby plantation in Western Liberia.

Presidential coordinator for concession Lahai Lassana said the investigation will run from September 7, to December 7 and will cover the seventeen affected communities.

Following hours of negotiation late Thursday evening at the legislature, the protesters through a resolution resolved to suspend their action pending the outcome of the investigation.

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About Cholo Brooks 14898 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.