“Peace is the way to go”; Minister Sirleaf rallies Maryland citizens as he resolves Citizens/MOPP tension

Minister Sirleaf addresses citizens of Gbeken
Minister Sirleaf addresses citizens of Gbeken
Photo Credit: MIA

Harper, September 2, 2019: In Maryland County, on August 26, 2019, citizens of Gbeken, a community near the operation area of MOPP violently shut down the company’s operations on allegation that the company had encroached on their customary land. 

MOPP is the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation.

The citizens invoked their tradition and setup road blocks to prevent access to MOPP’s workers.

According to spokespersons of Gbeken Community, their action to close the operations was triggered by prolong complaints of encroachment which have not been fully addressed.

The Government of Liberia on March 4, 2011 awarded MOPP 5,570 acres of land to plant oil palm in the District.

To resolve conflict, Minister Sirleaf requested the Liberia Land Authority to conduct an investigative survey which was immediately conducted by a team headed by Mr. George Y. Miller, Director of Land Administration, an experienced Cartographer and Surveyor of the Land Authority.

A Technical Assistant at the Internal Affairs Ministry Mr. D. Emmanuel Wheinyue said the investigative survey was observed by all parties to the conflict and local authorities including George A. Prowd. Mr. Wheinyue is quoted by the release that Land Authority’s investigative survey established that MOPP did not cross over the boundary contrary to claims of encroachment.  

Result of the survey was presented and explained at a well-attended town hall meeting in the town of Barreken, where the both parties welcomed it.

For their part, the citizens promised to uphold the result.

The General Manager of MOPP Mr. Zadi Sokoi welcomed the Minister’s intervention and thanked the people of Gbeken for realizing the fact that the land belongs to the company; he however promised to work accordingly. 

The manager promised that his management is willing to honor Minister Sirleaf’s request for an outgrower scheme in which the company will provide technical assistance to the communities for cultivation their own farms.

The citizens promised to allocate land for the outgrower scheme which will make individual citizens own their own palm farms.

Speaking to local media following his successful mission, Minister Sirleaf said President Weah is concerned about the wellbeing of citizens, and as the Minister of Internal Affairs, he takes solving every problem seriously.

“I want to thank the President for leadership and the citizens and workers of Maryland for listening to me and my team which makes it possible for Government to continue to prevail on the concessions to meet their portions of the agreements. That does not mean the companies have not been performing their duties, but more needs to be done”.  Minister Sirleaf stressed.

He encouraged communities to resolve issues matters peacefully and desist from taking the law into their own hand by resulting to violent protests. The release concluded.