Land grab in Sinoe County: Equatorial Palm Oil Company accused by locals

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FrontPageAfrica | 24 September 2012
Dr. James M. Kofi who is the General Secretary of the group told FrontPageAfrica that the rights of the Tarsue People have been trampled upon for over 36 years now by the Butaw Oil Company turned Equatorial Palm Oil Company through its illegal conquest of 7,500 acres of land (3,000 hectares) of Tarsue land without signing any social agreement or memorandum of understanding with the Tarsue people.

WRITTEN BY KENNEDY L. YANGIAN  

Monrovia - A group calling itself the Greater Tarsue Community of Butaw, Sinoe County has strongly protested what they refer to as illegal land grab by the Butaw Oil Company turned Equatorial Palm Oil Company.

Dr. James M. Kofi who is the General Secretary of the group told FrontPageAfrica that the rights of the Tarsue People have been trampled upon for over 36 years now by the Butaw Oil Company turned Equatorial Palm Oil Company through its illegal conquest of 7,500 acres of land (3,000 hectares) of Tarsue land without signing any social agreement or memorandum of understanding with the Tarsue people.

Kofi indicated that the group has gathered from reports that there have been wicked intentions and dubious mechanisms being put into place by the Equatorial Oil Palm Company to forcibly grab more of the Tarsue people’s land by seeking to survey and additional 12,295 acres which is equivalent to 4,918 hectares.

According to Kofi, the representative of Equatorial Palm Oil Company have never met with the citizens to discuss any land increase as the company continues to make every effort to further demarcate more of the Tarsue land in spite of the moratorium issued by the Liberian government on Private Use Permits (PUP).

Making reference to the New Forest Law which provides for the payment of land rental fees and other social contributions in forest concession areas, he added that the Equatorial Palm Oil Company owes the Tarsue people a huge sum of money which it has refused to pay up to present.

Dr. Kofi told FrontPage Africa that the Company is already encroaching on their land and conducting a campaign of massive deforestation without any economic benefit for the Tarsue Community, sternly adding:

“As law abiding citizens, the Tarsue people are anxious and will appreciate the timely intervention of the government to halt all activities of the company and the encroachment on their ancestral land as the people are capable to defend their ancestral land in any manner necessary.”

But in an apparent reaction Dr. Kofi’s claim, the Director of Corporate Affairs of the Equatorial Palm Oil Company, Allen N. Yancy III said there was no land grab from the Tarsue people as the land in question was given to the company by the government through a concession agreement signed in 2010.

Visibly angry, Yancy told FPA that he does not want to further comment on the claim because it was coming from a handful of Tarsue citizens residing in Monrovia and not those in the areas the company is operating:

“I could further comment on the claim if it has originated from people back home and not the handful of people sitting in Monrovia calling themselves Greater Tarsue Community.”

Original source: FrontPageAfrica
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