By: Lester B. Cooper (+231777368741)
The National Bureau of Concessions (NBC), has moved swiftly to mitigate the brewing conflict between communities in Sinoe and Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL). Since the entry into the country of the multilateral palm oil company – incessant scuffles have taken place in its concession areas due to lack “locals’ participation” especially during the signing of concession.
In October 2018, there were an ongoing strike action by community dwellers and workers against GVL failure to implement provisions within the Memorandum of Understanding. According to Nathaniel Bracewell Jr, Deputy Director General for Concession, his entity has managed to arrest the situation in Sinoe and was doing so for many concession areas around the country to ensure smooth operation for concessionaires as well as benefits for dwellers and workers in these concession areas.
He revealed that he led a team which succeeded in putting an end to the strike action with an understanding that a review of the provisional MoUs will be concluded for implementation by all parties. However, the Deputy Director said GVL was still reneging on conducting the revision of the provisional MoUs into permanent MoUs as agreed upon. The affected communities are Tarjouwon, Numopoh, Nitrian-Kabada and Tartweh-Drapoh Chiefdom.
In July 2017, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), conducted an assessment analysis of GVL operation in Sinoe County. Bracewell said the findings of the Complaint Panel (CP) revealed that the communities had limited understanding about the content of the MoUs. The panel further revealed that the communities did not have or receive legal advice on the language used in the MoUs. Henceforth, the CP directed that all provisional MoUs of GVL Estates in Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties be converted into Permanent MoUs using RSPO compliance processes which reference ‘Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)’ guidance for the conversion of MoUs. The report further directs GVL to resolve any and all ongoing disputes related to the provisions in the MoUs through mediation with relevant representatives of the communities.
The Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) between the Communities Representative Committee (CRC) and GVL had serious implementation breached which led to conflicts in and around the concession areas.
Bracewell intoned that his entity was doing all to ensure that community dwellers benefit from concessions in their areas as it. He said President Weah Pro Poor Agenda Prosperity and Development (PAPD) is aimed at lifting poor and marginalized Liberians from the scourge of poverty. “The President has set his sight of the upliftment of his people and I as a lieutenant will do all to ensure that the president’s goals are achieved”. He said.
Bracewell said, through NBC intervention, GVL has begun honoring some of it promises to the communities. He said education, jobs and health care were among key issues community dwellers crave. “These things are in the agreements and we will ensure our people benefit”.
He lauded the President for his appointment. “The President has given the awesome responsibilities to us young people and we should do all to make him and the Liberian people proud by ensuring that the economic pie is equitably distributed” exclaims Bracewell.
The National Bureau of Concessions has the national mandate to monitor and evaluate concessions compliance issues on behalf of the Government of Liberia.