The age-old boundary dispute between Gbarpolu and Bong counties has resurfaced with reports of serious tension at the disputed border in western Liberia.
Citizens from the two counties residing in the contentious border communities have reportedly threatened to resist any attempt by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to establish polling precincts in the mining town of Jungle James Camp during the October polls. Jungle James Camp is a mining town straddling Gbarpolu and Bong counties.
The camp has a population of over 40,000 many of whom are farmers and miners.
Residents of the vast forest land spanning the two counties are originally from the two provinces, but the Barclay family, who originates from Bong County, particularly the Bong Mines area, is claiming ownership of the entire land. Citizens from Gbarpolu County residing in that part of the county have vehemently refuted the Barclays’ claim.
The claims and counterclaims are brewing serious tension which if nothing is done to amicably resolve it, may end up with the intervention of ‘country devils’ which will instill fear in the hearts of other residents who are not members of either group and cause them to vacate the town.
Bong County citizens residing in the camp have reportedly threatened that NEC will not have a polling precinct in the camp unless and until the national government can turn the entire area over to them.
They claim to originally own the land, which is reportedly rich in natural resources.
Gbarpolu County on the other hand, has lodged a formal complaint to the government concerning the dispute in the mining area.
Authorities of the county told the Daily Observer that the situation in the disputed province requires urgent attention so that it does not degenerate into further chaos and cause a setback for the electoral process.
Gbarpolu County Superintendent Armah Sarnoh has, however, promised to ensure that the land issue will be amicably resolved and that residents of both counties will co-exist peacefully.
It can be recalled that during the just-ended voter registration exercise, about 40,000 people in the area were denied registration because ‘country devils’ were assembled in the camp to establish the claim that the area belongs to Bong County.
The devils’ presence sparked off serious tension that left the NEC with no alternative but to administer mobile registration points in the area.