-Lifts contempt charge
The House of Representatives yesterday gave Sime Darby Plantation-Liberia’s management three ultimatums ranging from one month to a year to improve its basic services, operations and tackle report of bad labor practices in accordance with the laws of the country, or be charged with contempt and concession agreement pullout.
The House’s Plenary strongly issued a30-day, 90-day and a year’s ultimatum respectfully to the company’s management to comply with all the 15 recommendations.
In its yesterday’s session, 24 Representatives voted for the “ultimatums” to be passed to Sime Darby, none voted against, but four abstained.
Sime Darby’s delegation at the hearing was headed by the operation manager, Ali Kamal, while the director general of the National Bureau of Concessions, Gregory Coleman led his team to ensure that the company fully implements the House’s mandates.
At three separate hearings, the management appeared before the lawmakers about allegations of torture meted against one John David, who was beaten for allegedly stealing a palm fruit bunch.
Accordingly to the recommendations, Sime Darby, as of yesterday, should install pipe-borne water and construct latrines at school campuses, camp sites and other places that require same within 30 days, and employ qualified Liberians in senior managerial positions within three months.
However, recommendations which must be adhered to within a year, according to the lawmakers are: Sime Darby to remove and replace asbestos roofing sheets; family members of all contractors be entitled to healthcare services; salary of teachers, nurses, security officers and all other professional staff comensurates with their qualifications and positions, equip the science laboratory, library and annex to be used as cafeteria on the school campus.
Others are that regular ambulance services be provided for the clinics as well as improve the structure of the housing units; contractors who have worked or served the company for more than two years be employed, and that no contractor should serve more than two years without being employed.
The rest of the recommendations, said those seen in the video torturing a Liberian citizen be identified and prosecuted; submit copies of its annual reports for the last five years; that the human resource manager position be exclusively set aside and occupied by Liberian.
Lawmakers also mandated the company to comply with all provisions in the concession agreement; comply with the government to conduct a speedy trial into the mysterious death of Okastine Kollie, chairman of the grievance and ethic committee; that the coordination committee in the agreement be established, and that the National Bureau of Concessions produces quarterly reports to ensure that concession agreements are fully complied with.
A motion of amendment from Representative Saah Joseph suggested that the victim be sent to hospital, be insured and given a package with acceptable content.
In a response to the House’s Plenary, Mr. Kamal said the management appreciates the lawmakers for their intervention that encourages sustainable and equitable investment.
Kamal reaffirmed the company’s genuine commitment to continue working with the employees, local government officials, representatives of civil society and partners of Bomi and Cape Mount Counties.
He said Sime Darby is already accelerating the completion of its ongoing activities of some of the issues the lawmakers raised.
The company said the position of the Human Resource manager has been set aside for a Liberian, and will therefore appoint one by July.
The House has meanwhile, ordered Mr. Coleman to ensure that the recommendations are implemented in accordance with the timelines of the ultimatums.
Coleman has assured the Legislature that the entity will ensure that the recommendations are implemented to the letter.
He however called on the Legislature to increase the bureau’s budget to US$6.5 million, at least 1% of what the concession contributes to the budget.