Liberia: GVL Laments Road Condition in Southeast Liberia

Golden Veroleum Liberia is calling on the Government of Liberia to address bad road condition in southeast Liberia where the oil palm company conducts its operations. Chief Executive Officer Ferdy Surya Handojo says deplorable state of roads is causing his company to incur losses.

Addressing a news conference Thursday, July 2, 2020 at the GVL Head Office in Monrovia, CEO Handojo laments that the road condition has made it practically impossible to transport goods from Sinoe County to Grand Kru County, which led to a loss of about US$7 million last years. He stresses that the company is spending more and gaining less, adding that the losses have been every year before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

He discloses that management has been engaging the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Public works to ensure the roads are rehabilitated, as he emphasizes that it is government's responsibility because everyone else uses the road, including other companies. "We have to spend unnecessary cost to help rehabilitate the road. Because of the COVD-19 pandemic we were unable to bring our engineers from overseas to help with the road. We can't be spending more and gaining less."

CEO Handojo further explains that logistics in Liberia is very expensive as everything here comes from overseas and they spent lots of money to get all those things done. He says management has redundant 10 percent of its 4,000 staffers because of low income and also price of palm oil dropped on the world market. Out of the 400 staffers redundant, 40 of them were expatriates, as he commits to working with more Liberians and putting expatriates down in compliance with the Labor law where all those effected were duly paid.

According to him, GVL depends on its parent body in Indonesia for support to enable them to produce locally, adding that the company wants to stay in Liberia but the government needs to help in making their work easier. The Vice President for Sustainability, Strategy and Stakeholders' Engagement Elvis Morris, says since the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is running its own quarantine center, hospital and ambulance to keep workers safe.

Elvis however highlights that management is also engaged in building and renovating schools, contributing to the health sector, water sanitation and also providing US$100, 000 for scholarships every year. He explains that 35 percent of the money goes to scholarship in Grand Kru, while 30 percent goes to the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture for students studying Agriculture.

He reveals that management is presently constructing new mill in Maryland County to enable them transport their goods from Sinoe to Maryland and then to Grand Kru because of the bad road, but is optimistic that upon completion of the new mill, it will create more employment in the sector.

By Ethel A. Tweh-Editing Jonathan Browne

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