By Lansana Fofanah.
Socfin Agricultural Company has welcomed the commencement of the Government Mediation Team that was set up by the Office of the Vice President to look into the long- drawn discord between the Company and the people of Sahn Malen Chiefdom.
The Honorable Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh in a mediation meeting held in Sahn Malen Chiefdom on the 10th November, 2018 promised all parties that the Government remains committed to bringing lasting peace between the company and people in the Chiefdom.
On Saturday, March 23rd 2019, the Technical Mediation Team headed by the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abdulai Bangura, the Independent Candidate of Constituency 104 Hon. Shiaka Sama , Resident Minister South, Mohamed Alie, Paramount Chief Brima Kebbie and Secretary to the Vice President Baba Fortune visited the Chiefdom where they informed everyone that the commencement of the mediation team was as a result of Government’s effort to look into allegations put forward by some people in the Chiefdom against SOCFIN and to find a lasting peace in the community. The team assured all the parties of their neutrality and transparency as they hope to bring out the fact of the matter.
Reacting to this in an interview, the Country Manager of SOCFIN, Gerben Haringsma said that the mediation process is not only timely, but also will help to set distorted records straight about his company’s activities and the revelation of the truth about the whole uprising in that community.
“We heartily support the government in setting up the investigation to get rid of all unfounded accusations on our lease land; not being valid or legal, on the size of the land that we occupy. The investigation will also put a stop to the land grabbing accusation we have been suffering from for a long time. People were made to believe by ill-motivated people that we seized lands when in fact, it was a government that leased directly from the people, while we leased from the government. It is disheartening to see civil societies innocently blaming us for land grabbing. We came here as business people and not as fighters and we can only survive when the environment is safe for investment purpose, “he said.
Mr. Harignsma said that despite the green belt, there are 2,500 acres of land for farming, but that has not been utilized by the people.
“We expect that once and for all, these facts will lead to the end of incitement by certain politicians and NGOs and we will live in peace with the population,” he maintained. The Mediation Team is expected to brief the Honorable Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh about its findings at the end of the process and the Vice President will deliver the findings to President Julius Maada Bio who delegated the responsibility of restoring peace in that part of the country.