Equatorial Palm Oil plantations set ablaze
According to an article on Front Page Africa (FPA), Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) has faced mass resistance from local residents to its palm plantations and plans to expand.
It's been reported that several hectares of its newly planted palm plantation in Debbah Town, Liberia, has been subject to an arson attack.
According to David Woah, the Senior Assistant Plantation Manager, the company had been experiencing similar tacks repeatedly over the past couple of weeks and has consequently had 12 hectares of its plantation burnt- equating to an economic loss of approximately USD$125,000.00.
The culprits are currently unknown, but it is thought to be the result of actions by local community members resistant to the company's investment plans.
According to investigations by FPA, “residents of 16 affected towns were unwilling to open any negotiation with the company”, with Debah town being widely known for its opposition to EPO where the company has been accused of doing nothing for the local indigenous communities.
John Zeon, Debah Town's youth leader, stated that “Since they (EPO) came here in 1964, they have not done anything for us. We need roads, toilet, high school in this area, etc.”
Other residents have claimed that the company had “rejected the employment of ‘sons of the soil’ to top positions”. Community resistance was also high within Debah Town due to its history of 'forefathers being forcibly evicted from their land'.
The President of Liberia recently called a meeting to discuss the ongoing land crisis. FPA reported that 'while some of the affected communities had already lost confidence in the government’s approach, others were hopeful that their resistance would ensure that the Liberian government took the right steps to protect the land of their ancestors'.
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