Covid-19 may have hit Liberia slowly, but the impact of the virus on the business sector is becoming visible.
One company, whose business operations have been slowed down by the virus, is Golden Veroleum Liberia, an agriculture company in the Southeast with a little over 4, 000 employees.
Although the company had been experiencing some financial trouble lately, the outbreak of the virus appears to have worsened the company’s problem to the extent that it is contemplating reducing its workforce.
The proposed plan, according to the Ferdy Surya Handojo, GVL Chief Executive Officer, will affect only 10 percent of its workforce if the coronavirus outbreak in Liberia becomes worse.
“As a company, we will like to stay in Liberia but in order to sustain, we have to manage the cost,” Handojo said. “For now, we are doing the best we can to manage our operation effectively by cutting down lots of capital expenses. We have cut down lots of cost, but if we cannot manage it, we will have to reduce the workforce.”
However, the GVL boss said the company is working hard not to go in that direction but “if the challenge from the virus continues to remain, they will have to reduce the workforce.”
“This is the last option but we are working hard to avoid this ugly situation. We need help that is why we have communicated our challenge to the government and awaiting their responsible,” Handojo added.
According to Handojo, the company early this year, had a meeting with its corporate headquarters to discuss issues concerning an exit plan but they were able to identify areas in which cuts can be to sustain the business in Liberia.
He added: “To stay, we have to halt purchasing of new equipment and the construction of additional field offices. We are cancelling these expenses this year and hoping that the virus can end next year for us to restate our needs to the government. With all due respect, we will have to cut down more cost if that means reducing the workforce to sustain rather them completely leaving Liberia.”
Bad Road Conditions
Apart from the impact of the virus on the company’s operation, the bad road condition from Sinoe to Grand Kru, the company’s operational area means, it is unable to transport harvested fruit from the latter to the former for processing, a situation, the company says has resulted in excess losses.
The losses from bad road condition, according to GVL authorities, happens mostly during the rainy season, which partially stalls their operations during this period.
This, Handojo said, is painful because the company during this period does not cease operation rather, they continue working but are forced to watch their fruits rot in the bushes.
“We have a workforce working but without road, the fruit will be left on the ground. There it becomes rotten and a complete loss for the company. No matter how good our workers and equipment are, if we don’t have a good road, we don’t run operation. It is simple as that,” he said.
Finding solution to this age old problem, Handojo said that the company has decided to shoulder the responsibility of repairing the road from Sinoe to Maryland county at the end of the rainy season.
“We will put our equipment on the road to rehabilitate it; however, we were hoping that this of kind of unnecessary cost should have been shouldered by the government,” he said. “With all due respect, the road is a national highway and GVL should not be spending on it. “