Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 March 2019:
Last Friday, 15th March 2019, Socfin Agricultural Company in Sierra Leone, paid the sum total of three hundred and fifty-two million, three hundred and eighty-eight thousand Leones (Le 352,388,000) as payment for land it has leased from local land owners of Zone ‘A’ in Lower Malen, Pujehun district.
The lease payment is for the period 5th March 2019 to 4th March 2020, and forms part of an agreement signed on 15th October 2012, by the company and the government of Sierra Leone
The payment was witnessed by representatives of government, including the Pujehun District Officer, the District Agricultural Officer, CSOs, Office of National Security, the police and the military.
Speaking at the payment handing over ceremony held at Socfin Administration Office in Sahn Malen, the General Manager- Mr. Phillip Tonks, expressed thanks and appreciation to the land owners, the government of president Bio, Pujehun District stakeholders and chiefs of Malen Chiefdom, for cordial working relationship, as he reassured of the company’s continued commitment, particularly to its corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The General Manager spoke of Socfin’s ongoing plans to make future payments through the banks, to ensure transparency and accountability, and above all, end the hitherto blame game.
He also discussed plans to provide a bag of rice to deserving land owners upon completion of documentation; as well as payment of transportation allowance to workers.
The General Manager expressed hope that government will increase the percentage of the land lease allocated to land owners, something he referred to as a step in the direction meant to allow land owning families to enjoy the fruits of their benefits.
Receiving the money on behalf of Paramount Chief Kebbie, the Chiefdom Speaker SR Moiguah, praised Socfin for honouring its side of the agreement and for living up to its CSR.
The Chiefdom Speaker spoke about the good work done by Socfin in Sierra Leone, including the awarding of scholarships to successful BECE candidates which started three years ago; payment of stipends to teachers whose names are not on payroll; building of modern school structures and provision of furniture; refurbishing of health centres across the chiefdom; cultivation of Boli /IVS for food availability; constructions of roads and repairs of highways linking Sahn; provision of water wells and toilet facilities; provision of job for unemployed youths, mostly from Malen and surrounding chiefdoms.
The chiefdom Speaker thanked the government of president Bio for its continued effort in making Malen chiefdom peaceful once more and called on all to remain law abiding.
The district stakeholders commended Socfin and encouraged its management not to relent but to continue to compliment the good work of the government.
Land owners have since thanked and reassured Socfin for its continued commitment to upholding the terms of the land lease agreement, while reminding stakeholders to continue to play their part in developing the community.