The management of Golden Veroleum (Liberia) Incorporated (GVL) says some unknown persons residing in communities within its GVL concession areas in Sinoe County are in the “constant habit” of stealing palms from the plantations.
GVL Communication Coordinator, Alphonso S. Kofi, said the company has been carrying on community awareness aimed at discouraging the act, to enable it to maximize production to match its labor and other costs.
But the company has been experiencing palm theft for years from the hands of residents in Butaw area, Sinoe County.
He said that the majority of the citizens who attended some of those meetings condemned the act and told GVL that if any of their citizens are caught in such acts, the law should take its course.
“Over the past three years, some residents, especially in Butaw, Sinoe County where the company has its regional plantation office, have been purposefully stealing palms from the farm, mainly at night,” Kofi told this reporter.
The company consequently has issued a warning to persons involved to desist or risk legal action when getting caught. “GVL is losing millions of dollars to the criminals. We pay people to harvest and, right after harvesting, the thieves will collect the palms, causing the company to lose every day. If anyone is caught, they will be taken to court.”
Kofi described the thievery as being on the increase, thereby negatively affecting production, noting that, “GVL is spending millions of dollars monthly for paying its employees’ salaries and contractors who are harvesting and transporting the plantation’s products for the company.”
“The company has been experiencing this palm theft for more than three years running; GVL has engaged with the communities within its plantations through their leaders, but the act has not stopped and it is seriously hampering the company’s operation in the county,” Kofi said.
He disclosed that while several arrests have been made and turned over to the Liberia National Police, the palm theft continues to happen, which harms the company’s operation with a further losses incurred.
“We conducted community meetings creating awareness and the dangers the act poses on the company’s operation. All of their community leaders were present in the meeting and they assured us that the act was going to stop, but the company is still experiencing it. It is sad my brothers,” he said.
Kofi also disclosed that the memorandum of understanding signed between communities and the company commits the communities to help protect the company’s investment and its premises in all of the operational areas in the counties and not to destroy it.
“Those who are involved in such palm theft are violating the memorandum of understanding that the company signed with communities. They need to stop; we call on the government through the Liberia National Police to come to our aid. This act is seriously affecting production and the company’s operation,” he said.
Meanwhile, GVL says it remains open to collaborate with communities on delivering its commitments and improving the well-being of its employees and communities. From these commitments, the company has invested millions of United States dollars into the Liberian economy through government taxes, salaries, contractors and local purchases and has contributed over US$20 million in providing free education, healthcare, housing, road rehabilitation, local market facility and security support at the local, county and national levels.