The Matru Jong Palm Oil Production Project …The debate rages on
Global Times | 12 February 2014

The Matru Jong Palm Oil Production Project …The debate rages on

The Palm Oil Production Project in Sierra Leone is funded by the IDB (Islamic Development Bank) and the Government of Sierra Leone. The intention of the project is to establish 7,008 Acres of oil palm plantation of which 3,600 has already been done in Matru Jong. The remaining area is to be planted between 2014/2015.

The project is to build a factory capable of processing 10 Metric Ton of palm oil per hour in Matru Jong. The project will also build 3 schools, 3 health centres, 2 markets, 3 water points and 60 kilometres of feeder road as well as 10 staff quarters and 2 office complexes in the host communities. These facilities have already been approved by the Islamic Development Bank, and, the US$ 12.79m project is to commence soon.

Unfortunately, some local elites within the host communities have insisted that they do not need the project in their community. They argued that, only a private investor can salvage the wretched situation in their community.

The IDB is in the process of recruiting experts for the construction of the factory as well as the development of the remaining area of the plantation. The biggest challenge facing the IDB project is the resistance of a handful of elites from the host communities who are insisting that they do not need the project.

Some dubious private investors have been busy bribing some local authorities and some senior Cabinet Ministers to sabotage the IDB/GoSL Project in their favour.

Luke Marriott’s Gold Tree is presently fighting tooth and nail to take over the Matru Jong 7,008 Oil Palm Plantation. But industry experts say that Gold Tree does not have the capacity (money) to take over a huge project like the Matru Jong Oil Palm Plantation.

Gold Tree is struggling to run their own factory in Daru, because, they do not want to pay commercial rates for the palm fruits harvested by local farmers. And they do not have a palm oil plantation ready for harvest.

Many people think that a PPP (Private Public Partnership) with IDB will help resolve the current stalemate in Matru Jong.

The debate continues!

NewsWatch Sierra Leone | 11 February 2014

As US$ 12 million project flops .... Landowners withdraw plantations from government control

by Joseph Milton Lebbie

Land-owners in the Jong and Sogbini chiefdoms in Bonthe District have unanimously agreed to withdraw their oil palm plantations from the Sierra Leone government and hand them over to the Pan African – Sierra Leone Limited, owned by an American investor, Luke Marriott.

The land-owners took the decision following a recent meeting convened at the Mattru Jong Court Court Barri, presided by Jong Paramount Chief Allie Badara Sheriff who has been taking care of the plantations, on behalf of the government.

The decision of the land-owners stemmed from the unexplained collapse of a $US 12.9 Million project for capacity building which was ran by Malaysians but was consequently abandoned and is now in a state if disuse.

The land-owners accused the Sierra Leone government of neglecting their plantations hence leaving them impoverished. They sent a strongly-worded message to the central government, through the Paramount Chief, saying that they have reclaimed their plantations and have decided to hand them over to the Pan African – Sierra Leone Ltd Company.

They hailed the company, describing it as “serious and business minded,” adding that in the short time of doing business with them, they are impressed and overwhelmed. The proprietor of Pan African – Sierra Leone Company Ltd, Luke Marriott, told this writer that his company intends building a giant palm oil processing mill that will help the land-owners to realise benefit from their oil palm plantations, as well as for export purposes.

Luke Marriott furthered that the company would provide jobs for hundreds of youth in the two chiefdoms while at the same time help develop their skills to make them more productive. On corporate social responsibility, the proprietor lamented that his company will fully comply with its corporate social responsibility, by constructing roads and providing other basic social amenities that will improve the lives of the people.

He concluded by saying: “Through the Gold Tree Project, I have invested $US 20 Million in Daru where I have constructed a giant oil mill and that project has been rated as very successful. I want to replicate it in Jong and Sogbini, provided you people are ready and willing to work with me.”

Concord Times | 26 May 2014

Sierra Leone: Mattru Jong Riot - Two Police Officers Injured, 20 Arrested

By Victoria Saffa

Twenty people have been arrested by police in connection with the riot that broke out at the Palm Oil Production Project in Mattru Jong, Bonthe District, southern Sierra Leone, while two police officers who sustained injuries are currently being treatment, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Richard Moigbeh, told newsmen at last Thursday's Ministry of Information and Communications' weekly press briefing in Freetown.

Reports are that the Senior Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo and Chief of Staff at State House, Dr. Richard Konteh had engaged the people of Mattru Jong in relation to the palm oil production project, and how government intends utilizing the facilities in the interest of Sierra Leoneans and more especially the people of Mattru Jong.

According to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, immediately after the state officials had left the shores of Mattru Jong, some stakeholders within the chiefdom allegedly incited the people not to agree with the government proposal of taking over the oil palm project, thus leading to the riot in the community on Monday May 19.

He said the windscreen of a vehicle belonging to the Family Support Unit of the police with registration number AGR 362 and the official vehicle of the Local Unit Commander in Bonthe were damaged allegedly by the rioters.

"Twenty people have been arrested at the Lauwa Chiefdom [in Mattru Jong] and they are presently helping the police with the investigation," DIG Moigbeh said.

It could be recalled that some local leaders in the Lauwa Chiefdom had protested against the project being implemented in their area, as according to them, "only a private investor can salvage our wretched situation".

Meanwhile, the Palm Oil Production Project in Sierra Leone was funded by the Islamic Development Bank and the Government of Sierra Leone and the intention of the project is to establish a 7,008 acres of oil palm plantation of which 3,600 has already been done in Mattru Jong. The remaining area is to be planted between 2014/2015.

Also, the main purpose of the project is to build a factory capable of processing 10 metric tons of palm oil per hour in Mattru Jong. The project will also build three schools, three health centres, two markets, three water points and construct 60 kilometres of feeder road, as well as 10 staff quarters and two office complexes in the host communities. These facilities have already been approved by the Islamic Development Bank and construction will commence soon.

Concord Times | 25 November 2014

Agriculture Minister inspects oil palm plantation in Mattru

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, has toured vast expanse of old and new oil palm plantations of the Sierra Leone Palm Oil Production Project in Jong and Sogbini chiefdoms, Bonthe District.

As part of his assessment of the impact of the deadly Ebola disease on the agricultural sector, Dr. Sesay also inspected the project store at Gambia village in Mattru Jong, which houses various equipment of the palm oil project.

Speaking during a meeting at MAFFS offices in the Mattru township, Dr. Sesay expressed delight at being part of the visit as “the district is very close to the President’s heart”.

He said government was committed to bringing developmental projects to the people of Bonthe district, with the aim to improving lives and livelihoods, adding that the palm oil project is one of such, and appealed for total support from the community and local stakeholders in ensuring its successful implementation.

He disclosed that the project would construct health and community centers, schools, markets, and create more jobs for the youth and other members of the district, in addition to ongoing scholarship scheme being enjoyed by indigenes to pursue higher education.

The minister assured that the project is here to stay as it is modelled along the world-acclaimed Malaysian example.

Host Paramount Chief, P.C. Alhaji A.B. Sheriff III, pledged his unwavering support to the implementation of the project. He thanked President Ernest Bai Koroma for mediating between himself and former minister Syl Gobba.

“Me and my brother are working in peace now to bring the necessary development to our people through the government,” PC Sheriff stated, adding that the community would render all the needed support for the project to succeed.

He applauded the Agriculture Minister for choosing his chiefdom as a development beneficiary, referred to him as a “good friend”.

Presidential Adviser on Agriculture, Dr. Sheku G. Kamara, said the president has immense interest and love for Bonthe district. He also appealed for total community support for the project, which he noted would ensure the district regains its lost glory.

Assistant District Officer (ADO) Bonthe, Andrew P.J. Kaipumoh, assured the minister and entourage that his office would ensure the project gets the necessary boost to thrive, as well as creating a conducive environment for officials to carry out their work.

The palm oil project is funded by the government of Sierra Leone and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) with over 45,000 hectares of plantation in Sogbini and Jong chiefdoms respectively. It is also expected that a mill will be constructed to process the product in addition to other community development packages for Bonthe district.
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