The Cocopa Company, located between Ganta and Saclepea in Nimba County, is now deserted with grass growing wild in the concession area.
All offices including the general warehouses and other departments that contained some of the company’s important records have been reportedly vandalized by some unknown persons.
Our reporter, who toured the facilities last Tuesday, reported that the main camp, which hosts the central offices, is as quiet as a ghost town.
Managerial activities within the plantation have come to a standstill, something some of the aggrieved workers attributed to government’s neglect of the plantation and wishing to see the workers perish.
Cocopa Workers Union President Sakpah Mahn said government has failed to shoulder its responsibility to pay the workers off.
On April 1, the aggrieved workers blocked the main highway linking Ganta to other parts of the country demanding their salary arrears and severance pay from the management.
In the aftermath of the protest, management settled salary arrears for over 400 workers, leaving the plantation with about 679 employees.
But again, the management could not pay the 679 employees thereby prompting another round of protests in September that again blocked the highway.
Meanwhile, the Nimba County authority appealed to the workers to remain calm until the budget is passed. But the passage of the budget about a month ago is yet to relieve the workers from the hardships they have endured over the years.
“We are not happy with the delay of your salary, but we want you to remain calm while we negotiate with management for the money,” Nimba Superintendent Fong Zuagele told the dejected employees.
To that Sakpah Mahn replied: “We will accept the appeal, but wonder how long the workers will wait for the government intervention to settle their arrears with the company.
“Our children are not in school, no clinic or school is functioning on this plantation anymore. The offices are looted and we have no supplies. We are dying slowly.”
Meanwhile, the few numbers of employees and their dependents who continue to wait for ‘better days’ are now reportedly surviving on bush yams.
Cocopa’s interim management team (the Nimba Rubber Incorporated) has complained that it could not meet up with the workers’ demands due to the drop in rubber prices on the world market.
“Due to the situation, we are unable to pay the workers from our meager intake the plantation produces, because some of the rubber trees have become old,” the plantation manager once told this newspaper.