SINJE TOWN – A day following the raid on towns and villages by officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU) around the Sime Darby Plantation, the management of the plantation has released a report detailing the extent to which palm theft is costing the entity.
Speaking on Wednesday to a team of reporters at his office, the Communication Manager at Sime Darby Plantation, Samwah Fallah, said since the plantation began operation in Liberia, it has planted 10,508 hectares of palm in both Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties.
According to Mr. Fallah, of the 10,508 hectares of palm planted, 2,200 hectares, which constitute 20 percent of the total, are located in areas that have been identified as palm theft prone zones.
The report disclosed that Sime Darby Plantation incurs a loss of an estimated 7,000 metric tons of their palm at a monetary value of US$800,000.
The official of the Malaysian-owned plantation revealed that the planted hectares are surrounded by about 20 illegal oil palm processing mills which are situated in the surrounding communities both in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties.
He indicated that from May to November 2018, Sime Darby Plantation Liberia recorded a total of 231 crop theft arrests and cases combined.
“As per Section 4.5 of the Concession Agreement signed between Sime Darby and the Government of Liberia, the Government promised to ensure that there are no processing mills within 60 kilometres of the concession area,” Fallah intimated.
He said contrary to this agreement, criminals in the area have brought in several illegal processing mills and continue to criminally process the stolen palm on a large scale.
Fallah disclosed that the company’s investigation has also revealed that in the last few months, the plantation encountered six serious cases relating to crop theft involving firearms and sharp objects, in which some employees of Sime Darby plantation were severely injured.
He added that the criminals’ activities have been well-coordinated and executed, giving securities at the plantation difficulty to curb.
Meanwhile, the Sime Darby Communication Manager has lauded the effort of the Police Support Unit (PSU) in raiding several towns and villages around the plantation.
He said Tuesday’s action by the Liberia National Police will serve as a deterrent to other criminals in the concession area.
He called on the Liberia National Police to continue their patrol in the concession area.
On several occasions, the Management of Sime Darby Plantation has complained of continued palm theft at their premises.
In most instances, they point accusing fingers at residents of the Project Affected Communities (PACs).
On two separate occasions, the Police Inspector General, Col. Patrick Sudue, held meetings with residents of Madina Town in Grand Cape Mount County, one of the towns situated around the Malaysian-owned plantation.
At the center of discussions at those meetings was the issue of palm theft.