By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf and other officials of government have restored calm in Sinoe County as a result of a timely intervention made between the citizens of Tarjuowon Statutory District in Sinoe County and the management of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) following protest action orchestrated by the citizens which halted GVL operations in the county.
The minister’s trip and intervention mingled a peaceful resolution and thereby coordinating both sides of the divide to a harmonious settlement on issues raised by the citizens against the company which halted work for a number of days.
The day-long conflict resolution meeting was headed by Minister Sirleaf and held in Unification City on Wednesday March 20, 2019, along with the Director General of the National Bureau of Concession, Gregory Coleman and other local leaders of the county.
The management of GVL told the gathering of local and national officials of government including other citizens of the county that the situation has caused the company a loss of production value at over US$200,000.
Accordingly, the conflict was triggered by alleged delays in the payment of district development funds and failure by GVL to meet certain provisions of an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Company and the people of that area.
The MOU among other things calls for the employment of a certain number of residents of the district based on expansion threshold of the company’s projects and activities in the area.
The prolonged delays on the part of the company to meet its obligations led to a protest action that caused the locals to invoke other traditional means by blocking staff entry into the company facilities and further deteriorated GVL production activities.
Meanwhile, Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf has called for mutual respect, continuous engagement and dialogue with the concession community, noting that although government wants a fair play between the concessionaires and the locals, but warned communities against the use of traditional means to seek redress in situation of such.
The minister cautions the locals to through administrative channels and said appropriate actions will be taken against any perpetrator of such act if repeated to serve as deterrence to would be doer. He also promised to work in collaboration with the National Bureau of Concession in finding lasting peace in the area.
Also speaking at the meeting, the Chief Executive Officer of Golden Veroleum Liberia, Mr. Patrick Lomet has pledged to resolve all outstanding concerns of the people of Tarjuowon so as to continue their good working relationship.
In separate remarks, the Chief Elder of the Tarjuowon District, Mr. Johnny S. Brown and the head of the Tarjuowon People’s Association, Bishop Andrew N. Jasay thanked Minister Sirleaf and his team for the timely intervention, promising to support the investment as well as adhering to the warning from the minister.