LAC, Grand Bassa County– The National Bureau of Concessions has officially established two Multi-Stakeholders Platforms (MSPs) for communities around the Liberian Agricultural Company (LAC) situated in Grand Bassa County.
The Liberian Agricultural Company is Liberia’s second largest rubber producing corporation.
The formal establishment of the two MSPs, including Ablojay and Zewen United for Peace and Development (ZUPA) is the first of its kind in the history of communities in that area.
Ablojay is a Bassa word meaning, “because of our land”.
The two platforms according to the National Bureau of Concessions, will now serve as a voice for hundreds of communities affected by the operations of the LAC.
The National Bureau of Concessions believes, forming and operationalizing the MSPs under its signature program “Strengthening Conflicting Prevention through Establishment of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs) and Improved Alternative Livelihoods in Concession Areas”, can help reduce tension between the affected communities and the concessions they host.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting in LAC, Grand Bassa, National Bureau of Concessions Director General Gregory Coleman informed the gathering that the government of Liberia attaches much interest in the concession sector which hugely contributes to national socio-economic development and growth of the Country.
NBC boss is quoted as saying, President George Weah, under the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) is well concerned about the vast majority of the people particularly those residing in rural parts of the Country.
“For many of the concession areas that NBC has worked , most often people express about lack of land for farming, environmental pollution, improper waste management mal-labour practices etc. On the other hand, concessionaires have complained that they are not granted access to concession land; in places where rubber and palm have begun to produce more yields, NBC has received complaints about high level of theft of the product; and in some instances, violent conflicts have occurred in a number of concession areas”, intoned Director Coleman.
Director General of the National Bureau of concessions said with support from partners the NBC has designed “this new strategy” to work with both concessionaire and the affected communities to find amicable solution to their concerns and prevent violent conflict.
Already, nine Multi Stakeholders Platforms that concentrate on giving affected communities a voice in the effective management of Liberia’s Natural Resources for economic development and growth, which is consistent with government’s “Pro-Poor Agenda”, have been instituted.
He named an improved Sustainable Natural Resource utilization, and food security, an effective and efficient natural resource management framework, enabling transparent, accountable, and equitable distribution of economic benefits and protection of rights as key areas to the formation of MSPs and its effective operation.
He also stated during the meeting that the Voice and participation of civil society, women organization and affected communities in dialogues, conflict prevention mechanism and decisions relating to the extractive industries are strengthened and institutionalized;
For his part, Liberia Agriculture Company Human Resources and Administration Manager Harry Attoh said the Plantation welcomes the establishment of the MSPs as milestone in promoting “industrial harmony and peaceful coexistence”.
Majority of the locals attending the three days get-together welcomed and thanked Director Coleman for the effort but registered their individual disappointments with what they called continuous lack of benefit from the 1959 concession.
They said the plantation has over decades failed to make them get the necessary benefits of their lands; noting they are hopeful the establishment of the MSP will usher in a new day.
Historicity of Ablojay and Zewen
Ablojay which borders on the southern end of the Plantation represents the interest of towns and villages that have directly been affected by the rubber concession’s massive expansion program in districts Number 3&4 of Grand Bassa.
Its forty member delegates elected Helter Wragboe- chairman, Love Allie and Emmanuel K.B Allie as Co- Chair and Secretary General Respectively.
Meanwhile, Zewen United for Peace and Development (ZUPA) community leaders elected Sylvester Dobson as Chairman, Esther Jimmy- Co chair and Napoleon Gbeegar as Secretary General among others.
Upon election, a twenty-member leadership of each of the two MSPs was sworn in at the LAC Non Staff Recreational Center on Saturday in line with the established rules of the project.