There are strong indications that trouble may erupt soon in District #3, Grand Gedeh County as citizens of the area have begun to pitch against each other on the one hand and on the other hand, imminent clashes are expected to ensue between citizens and Burkinabees who are said to have been trooping into the District from neighboring Cote d’ Ivoire in pursuit of parcels of land to engage in farming and illicit mining activities.
According to reports from the area, the Burkinabees, some of whom have since taken residence and even married to some local women, have been coming into the area in batches and enticing the local residents with money and other freebies to sell land to them for agricultural purposes since 2015; and the situation have reached an alarming proposition which is claiming serious concerns from some residents and those in the diaspora.
“We are in serious problem here my brother. What was initially seen as a child’s play has turned out to be a time bomb waiting to explore. The Burkinabees are just coming in everyday with money in their hands fooling our people because of poverty. Not everybody is in favor of what is going on but we who are opposed to it, are in minority. Not many people know the dangers ahead,” Gibson Kantu, a teacher in the area who described himself as spokesman for the youth said.
Further investigation in the matter revealed that the aliens who, before now, have been occupying lands in the area and farming illegally along the Liberian –Ivorian border having realized the high content of fertility of the soil, decided to send emissaries to meet local citizens in the area to negotiate for the purchase of land from individuals and community leaders with cash, cattle and any other acceptable means of exchange.
From the success of the first transaction which was said to be mutually beneficial to both parties, more local citizens bought into the idea and with a short time period the whole district has been involved into it with more Burkinabees buying land very deep in the forest and jungles of the county.
Our reporter who was able to speak to some citizens in the area said the ongoing transaction seems to be well organized as there have emerged some brokers who bring selling and buying parties on the table to negotiate terms and conditions and the payment terms vary depending on the location, size and individual or party selling the land.
“The prices are not the same. It depends on the location, the size and the people who are selling the land. I just sold the last piece of land on which our late father used to have his cocoa farm, but I will not tell you how much I sold it for. The man even gave me one new motorbike that I will give my son to run as business”, said a 60 year old man who was on his way to Toulepleu, Cote d’Ivoire to buy goods from his sale to increase his wares in his shop.
The matter came into serious contention recently when some local citizens raised the alarm by alerting relatives in Monrovia and in the diaspora to act swiftly otherwise none of them should think of coming home to meet any land available to carry on development.
The Gbarzon Development Association in the Americas (GDAA), a diasporan group of citizens from the Gbarzon Statutory District in the USA, having heard about the situation constituted a local team to investigate and report back to them with the view of taking a concrete action to avert any imminent crisis.
An official of the organization who spoke on the condition of anonymity from New Jersey, USA, said they are not taking the land sale saga lightly, especially in a situation involving massive movement into the country of undocumented aliens coming in to purchase land from authorized local citizens.
The official said he is taking aback by the lukewarm behavior being exhibited by local authorities despite the glaring dangers the situation is posing to their constituency. He said GDAA is carefully studying the situation, and will soon take an action for the benefit of the people and district.
He stated further that the illegal sale of land to the aliens will definitely affect any meaningful investment in the area such as logging who have expressed their desire to go there will now find it difficult to access land because bulk of the land might have been sold to the Burkinabees.
“What we have been told so far is troubling; and it is sad that the local authority is not taking this seriously. Investment like logging companies that should be coming to give our people employment will not come because the Burkinabees are buying all the land. There is a huge security risk involved and people are playing with it. If care is not taken, it will boomerang in the future”, the furious official said.
An analyst sees the situation highly volatile as it has the proclivity to ignite a country to country confrontation if not handled with care. The analyst believes that the lands being purchased and deeded to the aliens could be used by occupational elements who may eventually flout Liberians regulations and laws, and therefore stand against constituted authorities in non-compliance.
Meanwhile, all efforts to reach Chairman of the Grand Gedeh Legislative Caucus, Mr. Alex Chersia Grant and the County Superintendent Kai Farley proved futile to press time.