Harbel — On Saturday, September 12, 2020 the people of Kparnyah Town, in Margibi County and the Management of Firestone Liberia began a dialogue process which is expected to end a long running tension between the people and the company.
The dialogue followed an intervention of Internal Affairs Minister Honorable Varney A. Sirleaf.
Minister Sirleaf told the gathering in Kparnyah town on Saturday, September 13th that he had gone there to listen to concerns of the people against Firestone in order to jointly resolve the problems through dialogue as he has done in other parts of the Country.
The people of Kparnyah and other nearby towns and villages have repeatedly complained and recently set up roadblocks on grounds that the rubber company was allegedly destroying crops and taking their land, outside of a 99-year concession agreement entered into some 94 years ago and ratified by the Legislature in 2008.
They are also demanding some benefits as the company's corporate responsibility including provision of electricity in parts of their community and other basic needs.
Meanwhile, a recent investigative survey conducted by Liberia Land Authority revealed that the land in question falls within Firestone's concession; adding that the company has not crossed the metes and bounds given by the Government of Liberia. The result of the investigative survey was explained at the mass citizens' meeting by Attorney Adam Manobah, Chairman of the Liberia Land Authority, LLA. Atty. Manobah said the gathering that while the LLA cannot confirm or deny that Firestone rubber plantation occupies a portion of the ancestral land of Kparnyah town, the fact established is that the areas being cultivated by the company fall within the metes and bounds provided by Government.
As part of the dialogue and for the purposes of co-existence, a site visit is expected this Saturday, September 19 by both parties jointly with Ministry of Internal Affairs, Liberia Land Authority, Margibi's District #1 Representative Tarpoweh, Superintendent Jerry Varnie and others along the affected towns and villages to physically assess the situation destruction of crops and areas where Firestone is reportedly planting rubber trees close to dwelling places.
The Internal Affairs Minister is also urging the Management of Firestone that even though garden spots and some homes fall within its concession, portions closed to towns and villages should be set aside for the residents and parts of wetlands for gardening.
Speaking earlier, the General Manager of Firestone, Don Darden said the company was committed to work with the community and Government to resolve any misunderstanding; adding that the company continues to respect the concession agreement and will do nothing against the law.
"We have been friends for a long time with the people of Kparnyah Town. I don't what went wrong, but will to solve the problem," said Mr Don Darden, General Manager of Firestone Liberia when he spoke at the meeting.