The violent incident at Golden Veroleum’s site in Butaw, Sinoe County last week took everyone by surprise. Even the company itself, we are sure, was dumfounded by the reprehensible (wrong) action by workers, who only few weeks ago were praising (GVL) for guaranteeing their jobs, building schools for their children, health clinics, fixing their roads and affording them other social amenities.
If these workers had a problem with GVL, why did they think they had the right to move violently with cutlasses and other deadly weapons upon the management? Why could they not have asked their leaders to enter discussions with management about any new grievances they may have had?
Those who engaged in that nefarious (wicked) act have so soon forgotten what happened to the youth who engaged in a violent demonstration in Yekepa, Nimba County. They attacked the Arcelor Mittal premises, leading to the destruction of property worth millions of United States dollars. The demonstrators were arrested and prosecuted. In the middle of the case, the mothers of these youth came to the President to appeal for their release, and she told them the matter was in court and they would have to await its legal resolution.
Well, 14 of the Nimba demonstrators have been found guilty of various crimes and committed prison for 10 years.
We fail to understand why some of our people would behave in a manner that definitely undermines the GOL’s efforts to attract investors to create the very jobs everyone around the country is crying for.
These Sinoe demonstrators could not have chosen a worse time to commit their terrible act. At that very moment, the company was welcoming a visitor from Golden Veroleum’s headquarters in Malaysia. And why had he come? Vice President Joseph N. Boakai had visited the company’s headquarters and urged them to send a senior executive on a visit to the company’s operations in Sinoe County as a morale booster. The company willingly obliged—and that is what they got for consenting to what they considered a reasonable request by a leading Liberian official.
The Liberia National Police has already arrested 22 of the violent demonstrators. The LNP should not rest until all the rest are arrested and brought to justice. They should be prosecuted in the same court in nearby Grand Bassa that tried and convicted the Nimba youth who attacked Arcelor Mittal.
Meanwhile, we hope these violent demonstrators have realized what they have done. They have deprived their people and county of much needed Social Development Funds (SDF) being paid into government coffers for county development. The GOL is now saying that these funds will go toward repairing the damage done by the violent demonstrators and replacing the looted items.
Surely the Sinoe people do not deserve that. They most certainly have better use for the SDF, with all the rehabilitation work that needs to be done in the county that is yet to recover from the 14-year
Liberian civil conflict. And yet, they—the Sinoe people—must take responsibility for the unruly and violent behavior of their youth and other people.
Let this lesson be learnt: hostility and violence do not pay. More besides, there are very serious consequences to hostile acts resulting in injury and destruction.