PHC position on the destruction of illegal settlements at the Lokutu site
Since December 2021, PHC agents at the Lokutu site have observed the illegal use of part of the Lokumete Estate by uncivil members of the local population for the production of illicit alcohol from the sap of oil palm.
PHC held numerous meetings with these people to ask them to leave the premises, but these efforts did not bear fruit. The company resolved to file a formal complaint with the local administrative and legal authorities. After investigations, they found that a temporary camp had been erected to hide the alcohol production equipment. Following this assessment, the public authority met several times with the representatives of the community to ask them again to leave the premises. These discussions having resulted in no change on the part of those involved in the illegal activity, the public authority resorted to an order for the seizure and destruction of the assets of the camp.
The seizure order was executed on March 24, 2022 in accordance with all the usual procedures, in particular by warning the population concerned that the order had been issued and that they should leave the premises. The public authority also requisitioned one of PHC's tractors to help evacuate the seized property. Unbeknownst to PHC staff, the authorities had decided to destroy the structures of the camp by setting them directly on fire. PHC respects the judgment of local authorities who have deemed the use of fire necessary in this case. However, the company notes that the use of fire poses a high risk to the safety of the local population as well as the environment and encourages the use of other methods that are less dangerous for communities and less harmful to the environment.