Socfin dispute – government looks for a resolution

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 November 2018:

The government of president Julius Maada Bio on Saturday 10th November 2018 embarked on a mission to find a lasting solution to a protracted land dispute between the aggrieved people of Sahn Malen Chiefdom and the SOCFIN Agricultural Company.

After a series of consultative meetings with stakeholders of the chiefdom by president Bio and his vice president – Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh aimed at collecting first hand evidence about the Malen dispute, president Bio has delegated responsibility to the vice president and a few government ministers to resolve the dispute.

Hence, last Friday 9th November 2018, the vice president and delegation left Freetown for Sahn Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District.

In Sahn Malen, the vice president and delegation held fruitful close door discussions with Paramount Chiefs of the district and the Malen Affected Land Owner Association (MALOA).

At a general meeting with the people of Malen, which was held at the Court Barray, the vice president thanked the people of Malen for voting for president Julius Maada Bio as President of the country.

Stating the purpose of their visit to the chiefdom, the vice president said they are in the chiefdom to find a final solution to the outstanding crisis which has taken about seven years. He said the president is concern about dissension in the chiefdom and he is not happy.

To solve this, he said, the president has set up a committee headed by himself to find a lasting solution to the crisis, adding that the responsibility of any government is to look after the interest of the people.

As a government, he said, their responsibility is to unite the people of Malen and SOCFIN Agricultural Company by looking into issues of agricultural land, the concerns of SOCFIN workers, transportation, compensation and water crisis.

He appealed to the people of Malen including the Independent Member of Parliament, the company, Paramount Chiefs and all stakeholders to adhere to a peaceful resolution. He said that the process will not end immediately as they as a government will ensure that the concerns of all parties are met.

Vice president Jalloh encouraged the people not to take the law into their hands, calling on anyone aggrieved to direct their concerns to the committee.

He advised them to allow the company to operate in a peaceful atmosphere as the president has attracted more investors to the country. He said if they continue to fight the company, investors will be frightened to come to the country to invest.

The Minister of Internal Affairs also encouraged the people of Malen to keep the peace as government is working towards reaching an amicable solution to the dispute. He called on them to desist from acts that will result in conflict and to find a peaceful solution to the dispute.

The Minister of Local Government – Anthony Brewah encouraged the community to embrace investors in order for the president to achieve his promises made to the people of Sierra Leone.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture in his statement, called on the people of Malen Chiefdom to help protect the properties of investors; and for investors to pay keen attention to the interest of the people.

Independent Member of Parliament, Hon. Shaka Sama, in his remarks thanked the VP and delegation for proffering a peaceful resolution to the long impasse that has been eating into the peaceful atmosphere of the chiefdom. He called on his people to be peaceful and respect law and order.

The Paramount Chief, Chairman of Pujehun District and Coordinator of MALOA also made useful statements.

The company has commenced full operations in a peaceful atmosphere after the visit of the vice president and his delegation.

Vice president Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh and delegation also visited several communities including Kortumahun and Banaleh to engage the people to be peaceful and have confidence in the mediation process.

Source Credit: The Office of the Vice President of Sierra Leone.

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