Monrovia, October 4, 2020:Harbel, Margibi County – Milestone achievement in the Kpanyan Town and Firestone long-standing land dispute.
The Liberia Land Authority accomplished a landmark achievement in the Kpanyan Town and Firestone long-standing land dispute after weeks of dialogue. Many thanks to the Liberia Land Authority Chairman, Hon. J. Adams Manobah, and Liberia’s Internal Affairs Minister of Varney Sirleaf their keen intervention in the land dispute.
The Kpanyan Town and Firestone long-standing land dispute was resolved during a town hall meeting held in Kpanyan Town on September 19, 2020. Following a tour of the land in question, the both parties agreed to setup boundaries to divide the disputed land into two portions.
As part of the agreement reached, the residents of Kpanyan Town will use a land commencing from Brown Town to the Gion Creek to carry on their farming activities, while the Firestone Management will control the use of the land beginning from the Gion Creek to Carter Camp to replant their rubbers.
As part of the agreement reached, the residents of Kpanyan Town will use a land commencing from Brown Town to the Gion Creek to carry on their farming activities, while the Firestone Management will control the use of the land beginning from the Gion Creek to Carter Camp to replant their rubbers
The people of Kpanyan Town and other nearby villages and towns have been protesting recently that the Firestone Rubber Company was encroaching on their land and destroying their farms. This led to the intervention of their Lawmaker, Representative Tarponweh, who invited the Liberia Land Authority to conduct an impartial survey to harmoniously resolve the dispute.
The investigative survey revealed that although the residents of Kpanyan Town have lived on the disputed land long before the existence of Firestone in Liberia, the land actually falls within the Company’s concession area that they are leasing from the Government of Liberia. The land in question is about 1,000 acres along the Du-River and borders with Divisions #44 and 45 in Firestone, Lower Margibi County.
During his remarks, Chairman Manobah told both parties that the LLA has a mandate to provide guidance to community stakeholders, including customary communities, civil society organizations, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and partners in carrying out boundary harmonization, confirmatory survey as well as to ensure that all required steps have are fully accomplished through an efficient review and verification process, t which the LLA is committed to peacefully doing in all land disputes in Liberia.
Minister Sirleaf lauded the parties for being peaceful and promised to extend the residents’ recommendation to President George M. Weah that the towns and villages adjacent Firestone should benefit from the land rental fees paid to the Government by the Company.
“We have not come here as a court, but we are here to make peace between our people and the firestone. The happiness of our people will determine the survival of the company,” Minister Sirleaf said.“We have not come here as a court, but we are here to make peace between our people and the firestone. The happiness of our people will determine the survival of the company,” Minister Sirleaf said.
I am excited by both parties’ willingness to adhere to the MOU that will be signed shortly. We have realized that Firestone is paying land rental fees to our Government. We can’t hold them for that. I am taking your recommendation to President Weah so that you can benefit from this rental fee as well.”
During his statement, Representative Tarponweh unveiled that he has written a communication to the Plenary of the House of Representatives to address the issue of the land rental fees. The Margibi County District #1 Lawmaker assured the town’s residents of his continuous support but advised them to remain peaceful. He further stated “Firestone is our partner and not our enemy, therefore we will ensure that the company respect the rights of our people. We will support our partners when they are right and oppose them when they are taking advantage of our people. Let’s continue to work within the law. We should be the voice of the voiceless. I remain committed to the attainment of that goal”.
Representing the Management of Firestone, Mr. Richard Fallah, the company’s Government Relations Manager thanked the Liberia Land Authority, the Minster of Internal Affairs and others for their intervention and expressed the company’s commitment to peacefully work with the residents
Dr. Syrulwa Somah, who represented the residents of Kpanyan Town stated their commitment to peacefully cohabit the land with the Fireston Rubber Company.
Reported By: Kweshie Tetteh - Public Relations Officer