Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 March 2019:
Workers of Socfin Agricultural Company in Sierra Leone have told the government that the presence of the agricultural company in Pujehun District, Sahn Malen Chiefdom that has transformed the chiefdom and district to the admiration of most locals, is vital to the economic wellbeing of the community.
Residents of Sahn-Malen applaud the strides being made by Socfin Agricultural Company in their chiefdom and Pujehun District as a whole.
According to the residents, a town which was once considered as an eerie chiefdom has metamorphosed into a works yard due to the timely intervention of the company and its Paramount Chief.
Chiefdom Speaker of Sahn-Malen – Robert Moiguah, says that the people of Malen chiefdom are pleased with the presence of the company, especially the development it has brought to the chiefdom and Pujehun District as a whole.
He said that residents of Malen and neighbouring chiefdoms in Pujehun district can now travel to Bo on the newly refurbished road which was once a terrible network.
“You can now travel from Bo to Sahn-Malen Chiefdom for 45minutes,” he said, noting that the road network from Koribondo to the chiefdom headquarters has been very well improved with the help of the agricultural company.
Chief Robert Moiguah in his quest for peace and tranquillity to prevail in his chiefdom, is calling on the various civil society organizations to stop peddling negative stories about the chiefdom, but urges them to have constructive dialogue with the government and other stakeholders to find lasting truce in the chiefdom which will attract more investors.
Hundreds of workers across the company are urging President Bio and his New Direction government to find a lasting solution to the conflict in Malen.
Recent serious unrest which took place in the chiefdom, resulted in the death of two Sierra Leonean. This prompted the Sierra Leone Police to make a series of arrests – including the legislative representative who has been charged to court for various offences.
Though tranquillity is slowly returning, there are feelings of uneasiness among expatriates and local staffs working for the company, due to the slow pace at which the government is handling the Malen issues.
In response to calls from his subjects, Paramount Chief Victor Brima Kebbie is appealing to the government and other stakeholders to bring lasting peace to his chiefdom.
According to the Paramount Chief, the concerns raised by the Human Rights Organizations, calling on the government to take action against the agricultural company are purely unfounded, as both the central government and other stakeholders have exonerated the company from these allegations.
Sierra Leone, according to the traditional leader, is a hub for investors but the narrative must be changed if the country is to continue to attract genuine investors.
The land tenure system in the country is not without some headaches, but people must be law-abiding and refrain from taking the law into their own hands.
The mill according to workers, processes about 60 tons of palm fruits per hour, with a rate of oil production of around 22%; generating its own electricity through a steam boiler (20ton/hr steam) that runs on the fibers of the fruits. The capacity of the generating turbine is 1.8Megawatts which will produce the first phase 1.2Megawatts of electricity.
Rural people need arable lands to farm, but there is the desperate need to balance self-interest with national interest. And it is against this backdrop of national interest that an official agreement was reached for Socfin to establish in Sahn Malen Chiefdom, just as other agricultural companies have established in other parts of the country, such as ADDAX in the northern region.
Therefore, it is easy to see how attacking the Socfin operation in Sahn Malen Chiefdom could undermine the authority and work of central government and the entire leadership of Pujehun District.
There are signs boldly written on the walls of this new direction government, that they are ready to change the image of the Pujehun district which has always been considered as deprived, by appointing prominent people from the district in some prominent positions.
The current leaders especially within the government and civil society should do whatever it takes to maximize the opportunities that has been presented instead of going back to the dark days of the “Ndogboyosoi” also known as the “Bush Devel War in 1982.
With the construction of the Africa super highway in the district, people should be focused on trade and investment within the Manor River union and based on my recent visit to Portoru this January, there is no functional business or banking institution available as compared to places like Mile 91 and other northern towns.
I believe that the only way forward for the district is better negotiations between the government, investors and the deprived but hard working people within the entire district.
According to SOCFIN owners, they made the saddest mistake by investing in Sierra Leone and they suffered a lot under the previous regime.
I hope, President Bio will be able to resolve their problems and prove that our country is now an Investor Friendly Country.
President Bio, I like the way you are handling our country. May the Almighty Allah bless you and your family for a work well done.
Keep to it. When you walk a distance away, please check at your back whether people are following.
I am a Sierra Leonean born of Pujehun in the Soro/Gbeima Chiefdom. People must stop playing tricks in order to sabotage the effort of the masses and the company.
They want to make as Soro/ Gbeima Chiefdom Oilplam propose. It just ends up going to Makpele. All is politics. Stop your politics. Francis M Zombo. USA.