Youth Demonstration Is Underway In Pleebo-Sodoken District, Maryland County - Liberia
Hundreds of youths from the Maryland County Youth Organization are staging a demonstration against the practices of SIFCA in the county. Paramount among the demands is the separation of the administrative structure and offices of Maryland Oil Palm Plantations (MOPP) from those of Cavalla Rubber Corporation (CRC). They want the offices of MOPP to be relocated from the premises of CRC with a different management team. The people of the county consider the one-management, one-office approach as a monopoly, and they have repeatedly said that they would resist the companies for being insensitive. It can be recalled that the Liberian Government and each of the two companies signed a separate concession agreement, but the two companies have one management. The roads leading to MOPP and CRC have been barricaded, and the resignation of John Barkemeni is said to be the precondition for negotiation.
The youth are also calling for the hiring of qualified people from Pleebo-Sodoken Statutory District and Maryland County as a whole to senior managerial positions at CRC and MOPP. Pleebo-Sodoken Statutory District is like a time bomb that can explode anytime. Few of the reasons are published below:
There have been repeated requests that students from Pleebo-Sodoken Statutory District and Maryland County, who are enrolled at the Tubman University in Harper, be granted scholarships to pursue their education. The people of the district conclude that though all the concessions operating in Maryland County occupy their land, they do not educate their children. There is $60,000 per year earmarked for scholarships for students at Tubman University in the CRC and MOPP Concession Agreements. Since the signing of the agreements in 2011, the money has not been given to the university. Besides, the people of the county want the $40,000 allotted to Methodist Agriculture College in Sinoe to be diverted to Tubman University because the companies are not operating in Sinoe.
Some companies operating in the country are sending some qualified residents of the areas of operation out of the country for advanced and technical studies, but this has not been the case for MOPP and CRC.
Cavalla Rubber Corporation (CRC) and Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP) are operating rubber and oil palm plantations respectively. But the Concession Agreements for these companies do not have any provision for factories for "Made in Liberia" rubber and oil palm products.
Currently, CRC transports its rubber through Ivory Coast because the concession agreement does not call for the rehabilitation of the Port of Harper. The cost of living in the county as well as in Grand Kru and River Gee counties continues to be increasingly high because of the port issue.
Most of hapless laborers hired by the companies are hired as contractors because the companies do not want to pay them benefits.
At the top of the youth demands, is a call for the resignation of Deputy Managing Director John John Barkemeni. HR Director Wilson is also one of those whose resigniation is included among the youth demands.
The situation is tense in Pleebo though Appleton, the president of the youth, said on Voice of Pleebo Radio that there is no cause to panic because the demonstration will be peaceful.