“Pollution Story against Jeety is Fake” -Say Local Authorities; As Jeety Builds Rubber Processing Plant
MONROVIA – Local authorities and residents of weala in Margibi County have stoutly debunked rumors making the rounds that the ongoing construction of a rubber processing plant by businessman Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva, affectionately called “Jeety” has polluted the surrounding community, including the contamination of the river used by the people for drinking, cooking and bathing, terming it as untrue and only intended to cause confusion and discourage the businessman from investing in their area.
Speaking to a cross section of media personalities who had gone at the construction site to see the level of work being carried out and to also verify the allegation, Roland Johnson, Commissioner of the Cinta District where the construction of the project is located and who has strong admiration for Mr. Jeety, categorically denied the claims, stressing that as a local stakeholder he would have been the first person to take issue with Jeety if there was any iota of truth in the rumor trending on the social media
“I saw the story on the pollution from social media yesterday and I can tell you the story is not true. There are two rivers in the area, Gborlor and Weala and I will take you there. Even the chemical they are talking about, you can’t find that around here”.
He told the media not to give credence to the story, stating that he was glad the media were around to see for themselves.
Also speaking at the occasion, former Bong County Senator Henry Yeala, owner of FARMERS HOPE Inc. said the community is not as big as people would think so if there were any issue about population, everyone, including those in the surrounding communities would have heard about it. He said pollution or contamination of running water that people use for drinking and other domestic purposes cannot be hidden, stressing that no matter the time and circumstances it will come to public glare.
“Pollution or contamination of running water is not something as small as they think. When it happens, you will see some form of epidemic breaking up and to the best of our knowledge, no one has ever reported of any outbreak of sickness being attributed to the alleged population.
Meanwhile, the construction of the first ever rubber processing plant in the country is in full swing as massive works have commenced on the $25 million project which will be one of the major investments to have been conceived in recent time and is being sited in Weala, Cinta District, Margibi County. In the processing of rubber, about 70 percent of natural latex is used for tires. Other products made of natural rubber are e.g. mattresses, condoms, shoe soles, hot water bottles, balloons, rubber boots and seal rings.
According to reports from the media tour intended for the press to have firsthand information on the project and also talk to the local residents on the impact it is already creating for the local economy though being in the embryonic stage.
A visit to the site can reveal that Jeety awarded contracts to various companies who will handle a variety of components on the structure, while a number of yellow machines and other equipment were seen on the site while a number of expatriates from India are on hand to offer various services.
Ahead of partnering with Jeety when the project comes up on board, Mr. Yeala, proprietor of the FARMERS HOPE INC, a local off taker for rubber products said that the arrival of Jeety in the area has rejuvenated the prospect of the rubber industry in the area as the rubber farmers and other stakeholders, especially local buyers who have had some difficulties getting sellers to market large stocks to them because of the fear that products will not attract more buyers. He said now that people are aware that there will be a large-scale buyer in their area, they will henceforth be encouraged to produce more.
He said Jeety has even demonstrated his willingness to work with the local marketers of the product by giving out a acre of land at a symbolic cost of $1 to be used by the company for a period of time until the plant comes fully on stream. He further said the farmers bring their wares at the site on a daily basis and are bought on the spot and the products are stored in containers for onward transportation to Monrovia before being exported abroad for processing into finished goods since there is no processing plant in the country at present.
Mr. Roland Johnson, Commissioner of Cinta District who said he was exceedingly excited for the project to be situated in the area, praised Jeety as a “Good Man” whose insight to invest in the rural part of Liberia like Yeala must be commended.
“There are a lot of things Jeety is doing and we want to talk about them, he is a nice man. In the beginning of this year, we saw Jeety walking in the bush here looking for a place to invest. You can see that the whole place was a forest and he decided to come here to invest. Through his investment, a lot of our citizens are benefiting.
He said Jeety has been renting houses and other structures from the citizens who in turn, for some are reinvesting into constructing more buildings targeting a reliable clientele who is using them for the accommodation and use of his workers, some of whom are expatriates. He singled out a lady whom he simply called Famata who is reinvesting her rental fees from Jeety to build more houses.
He said surprisingly and what is being seen as unprecedented , Jeety is housing and feeding the workers at the same time on the job which he said could not easily be seen anywhere in the country.
The local government official who was noticeably out of words how to describe Jeety and the impact the investment is creating, said that the businessman should also be commended for recruiting a well-trained Pakistani medical practitioner who has worked at the John F. Kennedy Hospital to take care of the clinic Jeety is also constructing in the area in addition to the rubber processing plant.
“At the end of the day, this project when completed will not just be only for the people of this district but for many other people too beyond. Already, you can see that there are more than 200 workers doing different works and by the time it is completed we will see so many Liberians coming here to benefit”, an elated Johnson said.
For his part, Jeety who has demonstrated his passion for business and interest in exploring vast opportunities, said he was happy to start the project and his desire to invest in the hinterland and not only in the city is something that he cherished more because it will help the local people.
“How many people want to live in the hinterland? In the whole of Weala, you can ask the commissioner, there is no shop to buy food stuff. When you want to buy, you run to Kakata. The whole district, there is no doctor. I applied for a permit for a Pakistani doctor. He was working at JFK before, he completed his contract and then went to India, then back home to Pakistan. I brought him back because I want him to work here, in fact who wants to live in the hinterland. Everyone wants to live in the city”, Jeety said.
Jeety who took the media team around the project site said he was also grateful to the government for the concession and the incentives given to him from the government where he pays only 25% of the tax revenue to the government including some other miscellaneous expenses.
When the project is completed and comes into operation, it will be a major boost to the economy as it will provide massive job opportunities, generate income through the rubber value chain, promote rural economic boost thereby reducing the rural-urban drift and empower the local communities.
The project will also represent a major shift of how the economy has been run in the past that has stunted the growth of the country because raw materials continue to be taken out of the country and returned as finished products with high market value. Besides Firestone that has been in the country since 1926, there are other rural companies in the country but none has ever thought of building a rubber processing plant in the country to add value to the very important agricultural material.
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