It is said that if the scaring of the birds does not end, the banging of the log cannot also end.
And so, it was the case early Tuesday morning on March 26, 2019 when officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) Emergency Response Unit (ERU) reportedly entered the operation areas of the Malaysian oil giant company, Sime Darby at about 4:00AM local time and began bursting and opening private homes in search of alleged stolen palm nuts or branches harvested from the company’s plantation.
According to some eyewitnesses the raid was carried out after the National Investment Commission and other relevant government agencies saw that the company’s intake from the palm was reducing, as reflected in its tax performance.
This theft has affected the company for several years. Many people are engaged into illegal stealing of the palm on a daily basis.
The eyewitness said the raid led to confiscating over twenty illegal mills at plantation. The Mills are used to process the stolen palm from the company’s farm.
The raid was carried out within the operational areas of the company both in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties as early at 4:00AM in search of stolen palm believed to be in the possession of residents of the areas.
One of the areas known to be the center for the illegal mills is Medina. In the past, some citizens of Medina have told government representatives who held meeting with them that they could bring the stealing to an end once they were given enough contracts by Sime Darby at the plantation. Some however admitted that the company had awarded them contracts in the past, but failed to execute properly.
When asked as to what was wrong or going on, the residents quoted the ERU officers as telling them that they were acting on the order of their bosses in relation to a reported complaint sent to the Government of Liberia on allegation of illegally harvesting the palm of the company for their personal economic benefit.
The operation which was carried out, was duly accompanied by a search warrant from the court thereby legitimizing the authenticity of the exercise. An officer from the LNP confided in this paper that they had earlier informed the residents about the pending raid. “But they thought we were joking here. So, they were surprised when they saw us,” one officer said.
In recent time, the company has suffered immense losses as a result of theft at its company at the hands of unknown men who have been bent on illegally harvesting the company’s palm; while at the same time wounding security personnel of the company on numerous occasions.
It can be recalled that several Sime Darby Security officers were shot at in the past and wounded by illegal harvesters.
Though no official statements were released to the public on the media report from the Police and authorities of the company, but several prominent citizens of the two counties have already condemned the actions of the Police.
But in private, some residents lauded the operation of the police. “I think such raid was good. I thought they did not have search warrant from the court. But they had it. This will help the company,” one said speaking on condition of anonymity.
Many of the illegal harvesters are said to be carrying live fire arms within the plantation. The arms are produced locally and some are said to be imported from neighboring countries. No Sime Darby Plantation security carries arms.
Some residents who called on some radio talk show commended the operations of the police saying it was necessary so as to put fear in the illegal palm harvesters.
Another resident in the area said the numbers of illegal mills are many. “Before the people could get on the same, other residents had informed them about the raid. So, they fled and dismantled their mills.”