Sime Darby Clarifies Reports on Fire in Liberia

SDPL is working with the Liberian authorities to ascertain the cause of the fire

Monrovia, 20 March 2014 - Sime Darby Plantation Liberia Inc (SDPL) would like to clarify media reports on the incident of fire in our estates.

Due to the very dry weather that started in December 2013, there have been fires in our Bomi, Matambo and Grand Cape Mount estates. This has affected about 214 hectares of land planted with oil palm.

SDPL has been working with the local authorities and the Liberian government to manage these incidents. The measures taken include:
  • Briefing communities on the hazards of a fire outbreak. The company also requested for their cooperation to suspend all charcoal burning and burning related to farming.
  • The suspension of all charcoal burning and farming related burning within plantation areas until early June 2014.
  • Establishing a hotline to report fires.
  • Increasing the number of staff involved in fire surveillance within the plantation area.
Planned radio broadcasts with Ministers, Senators and the local police to urge communities to cooperate with SDPL in ensuring no fires within the estates.

SDPL is also working closely with the Liberian government to investigate the cause of these fires. It has to be noted that media reports of local community dissatisfaction with SDPL is not true. Any suggestions that SDPL has entered into traditional land without consent is simply false. SDPL strictly observes the Free, Prior and Informed Consent process and this has been refined to include participatory mapping where community elders are involved in drawing the boundaries of areas considered as sacred or for farming, among others.

SDPL has a good working relationship with our Project Affected Community (PAC) and other key stakeholders. However, if the fires have been caused by arson, SDPL will work closely with the authorities to ensure the safety of all its employees and to protect the integrity of its investments

"We have condemned this fire thing from the first day. What is happening is very bad. What we like to make clear is that the fire is not coming from the PAC residents. We have been with Sime Darby helping to create awareness in the communities. Sime Darby is our friend and we hope the fire incident stops soon so that the company can move ahead with its development," said Mustapha Foboi, chairman of the PAC.

SDPL would like to call upon community residents to kindly assist with information regarding any fire throughout the plantation to ensure that it is managed effectively.

As a responsible long term investor, SDPL believes that the local communities are our biggest stakeholders. This is why we are committed to providing medical care, educational facilities, access to drinking water and sanitation, and roads to the communities within our concession area.

Sime Darby has provided more than 2,900 jobs over the last three years and has the potential to provide 35,000 jobs once the project is fully operational.
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