Following years of bitterness and mistrust between the Salala Rubber Corporation’s (SRC) management and members of local communities within the company’s concession area, the two groups have resolved to put the ugly past behind them and open a new page where they would coexist in peace and harmony, LINA Margibi correspondent Richard Baysah has reported.
The community members said the SRC was never their enemy but a very good friend and security for their survival; therefore, they could not go at loggerheads with the management.
According to the LINA correspondent, the citizens made the call recently in Gleegbah Town, Gibi District in Upper Margibi County, during the second stakeholder meeting the SRC’s management organized through the general manager, Shanid Allupy.
Allupy informed the residents that the meeting was to create a peaceful atmosphere between them and the SRC’s management.
William Julye, Cinta Township Commissioner, who spoke for local leaders, repeatedly mentioned the difficulty his office experienced to initiate the process that led to brokering a peace deal with the company and the residents.
Julye recalled how over the years, there were allegations insinuating that the SRC’s management was damaging the residents’ crops, polluting their water source and land grabbing, which were factors that exacerbated the tension.
He said he was overwhelmed that the situation had subsided and that both the locals and the company’s workers have smoked a peace pipe, thereby forging new chapters in the history of the SRC.
Mr. Julye assured the management that as per the peace deal, the residents will now serve as the best security for the company. He further assured them that, “not one of their rubber crops and tapping materials will ever be mismanaged by anyone in the concession area after the peace talks.”
The locals were alluding to the January 9 incident of this year, which led to the death of one William Siafa at the hands of some unknown persons on the plantation. In the aftermath of the incident, some of the citizens reportedly vandalized the company’s houses in camps 8 and 9 respectively.
The locals meanwhile regretted the situation, and subsequently apologized to the SRC’s management for the wrong act some of their colleagues carried out against the company.
“We will not support any of our citizens who want to institute lawlessness in their respective communities against the company,” the citizens further assured the management.
Lewis Shilling, SRC’s Public Relations Manager, who spoke on behalf of the company, thanked the citizens for embracing the peace initiative.
Shilling recalled how tedious it was to organize the stakeholders meeting amidst the mistrust that existed between the management and the locals in the immediate past.
He too regretted the situation, adding, “it has never been the intention of the SRC to be at loggerheads with residents in the concession area, but to rather live in peace and harmony with all. I therefore call on the locals, irrespective of prevailing circumstances, to see the SRC as your own and to jealously protect it at all times from marauding criminals,” Mr. Shilling declared.
SRC was granted concession rights by the Liberian government in August through an Act of the legislature in 1959, to invest into agricultural activities, especially the production of natural rubber.