Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pleebo Youths Accuse SIFCA

…Of Employing Ivorians Over Liberians, But
Youths of Pleebo Sodoken District in Maryland County have accused the management of SIFCA prioritizing the employment of Ivorians more than Liberians in the county.
According to the Pleebo Youths, the company has begun the importation of Ivorians and other French nationals to occupy various skilled and unskilled positions at the plantation.
“We want to appeal to the President and our Honorable Lawmakers not to rectify that agreement (SIFCA), because the company is not in the interest of the people of Pleebo Sodoken District…Even as I speak to you, if you can’t speak French, you can not easily get job with SIFCA…,” Chris Mulbah, Pleebo District Youth Secretary General said.
Mulbah alleged that the company has already imported several Ivorians to carry out several unskilled jobs including the brushing, planting of palms, construction of road and bridges at the plantation.
Another youth, Solomon Bedell, a member of the Pleebo Intellectual Discourse also accused the company of being insensitive to the plight of the young people of the district.
They alleged the since the company began operations at the Cavalla Rubber Plantation (CRC) three years ago, they have failed to build schools, clinics nor provide scholarship for youths of the district.
The youth, all males who were gathered at an ‘ataya-shop’ in Pleebo further accused the management of SIFCA of bribing some chiefs and elders of the district who were initially opposing the agreement.
“…They (SIFCA) have already given several motorbikes to some chiefs and elders of the district…they also came here, paid several chiefs and took them from here over night to Monrovia to pledge the people of this district’s support to that agreement…,” another youth alleged.
Pleebo District Commissioner, Aloysius T. Hne who refused to grant interview to reporters confirmed that some chiefs were taken to Monrovia by the company without his consent.
“I only heard, after few days that some chiefs have gone to Monrovia to pledge support to SIFCA agreement, but I was not aware of there going,” Mr. Hne said.
When contacted, SIFCA Group Liberia’s Director of Community Services and Public Relations, Martin Nyeka denied all of the claims and said they are only intended to derail the character of the company and satisfy certain political interests.
Mr. Nyeka said the company believes in the empowerment and development of local communities based on recommendations from the community members.
He said in series of meeting with the people of the district, they (residents) outlined several priorities including reserve land for members of the community, provision of scholarships for youths of the district among other things to the management of SIFCA.
“SIFCA has already agreed to meet all of their demands; we are going to finance everything that is before us, because we believe in the social we being of the people and we are committed to that…,” Mr. Nyeka said.
The SIFCA Public Relations Officer said contrary to the youth’s claims, the company has provided over 200 scholarships to Maryland university students at various universities in the country.
He said the company has compensated several formers who farms fill within the operational areas in the tone of USD$33,000.00 over the years.
“In agriculture there is nothing like white-curler job, even if you were a manager…and before you carry out clearing, you must first map up the entire area and in order to do that, you must have people to be willing to take cutlasses and is not white-curler business, is about playing with the dirt; and must of our young people don’t want to go to the soil, but they rather prefer to set behind computer in the office…,” Mr. Nyeka said.
He further clarified that: “We did not bring people from Ivory Coast to do all of our works, we put up vacancy notice for people to do the clearing and most of our young people said they could not do such work and the work had to continue, so we brought in some people from Ivory Coast to handle the technical aspects of mapping the area.”
The company PRO also confirmed the purchase of about 12 motorbikes for some chiefs of the district in order to ease the transportation difficulties that were being faced by the chiefs.
He further denied the claim that the company hired chiefs and elders to lobby for the company and pledge support to the agreement.
SIFCA is a financial holding group operating in the sector of agro-industry that was established in 1964 with seven companies, including Sucrivoire (sugar), Cosmivoire SA (health & beauty products), GREL (based in Ghana), SAPH (palm oil), SIPH, SHB (palm oil in Benin) and SODIMA as part of its network.
The Company reportedly won the concession agreement to management the Cavalla Rubber and the Decoris Oil Palm Plantations in Pleebo Sodoken District Maryland County.
But the agreement has been marked by series of controversy with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf ordering the reexamination of the entire contract.
Writes, Sam Zota, Jr. (May 31, 2011)

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