Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Varney A. Sirleaf, has said that Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) and Butaw citizens in Sinoe County have finally resolved to work together.
Addressing a press conference yesterday in Monrovia, Minister Sirleaf said the government was pleased with the level of collaboration between citizens and the company.
“We are very pleased with the level of intervention and progress we’ve made,” he said. “Today, we can safely say that we are on the road to settlement and more development in Sinoe.”
According to him, GVL has never had the backing of citizens in Butaw due to differences or land grapping accusations against the company.
Minister Sirleaf, who is the lead negotiator between the people of Butaw and GVL, as well as the Government of Liberia, said from the onset when the investment was put together by the GOL, Butaw citizens were not fully consulted.
Based on that, the people of Butaw and GVL have had conflict over the years.
Minister Sirleaf indicated that the government, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is doing everything possible to bring investors in the country and in return provides more jobs for Liberians.
The Minister further disclosed that recently he represented the Government of Liberia represented, along with Minister Paul Jallah, Assistant Agriculture Minister and Assistant Labor Minister for regional affairs, Prince M. Korvah, including Butaw citizens and GVL to sign an agreement to increase employment after completing nearly three years of negotiations.
Minister Sirleaf maintained that in the agreement, GVL will submit the County Development Fund (CDF) to the committee by July 26 this year; harmonizes its operational area with the citizens of Butaw, particularly with the people of Murryville.
“Let me make it clear here that GVL said the money is already available but waiting on the citizens to identify projects that the money will be used for,” said Minister Sirleaf.
The agreement brokered by community groups and the Butaw Youth Association set out a new timeline for specific activities to be conducted by the company
“With this agreement, the government is happy with the people of Butaw and GVL because both of them are going to work for peace,” he said.
Under the agreement, Butaw lands will be surveyed, tentatively scheduled for the later part of this month, along with a review of The Forest Trust assessment report; conduct a Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process; withdraw the 2012 complaint against GVL by the community, and the drafting and signing of a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the community and GVL later this year, and withdraw its court charges against Butaw citizens.
Meanwhile, the Butaw Youth Association (BYA) headed by Chea Blamoh, said Butaw citizens are willing to work with GVL if once it abides by its commitment. “I can assure the public that once that is done, GVL and the people of Butaw will peacefully co-exist,” he said.
“With this agreement, we the people of Butaw are very happy to work with GVL because we have come to an agreement, which is good for all of us,” Blamoh noted.
The Butaw youth leader also called on GVL to re-survey the land and establish its demarcation with GVL operational area to avoid future embarrassment.
He believes that if that is done by the company, then they can work together.
“For that, we are grateful to the GVL management because it’s shown to us that it is here for the people of Sinoe,” Blamo said.
On the submission of CDF, earlier the GVL said the fund has already been allocated, but wants the county leadership to take ownership of it.