LIBERIA: LibTA Resolves Citizens, Logging Company Dispute In Lofa

Gorlu Town, Salayea, Dist. Lofa Citizens

The Liberia Timber Association (LibTA) and it international partner, Nature Development Foundation (NDF) have successfully resolved a lingering conflict involving a logging company and citizens of Gorlu Town, Salayea District, Lofa County.

The Company known as Alpha Logging and citizens in the surrounding communities has been in confusion for what the citizens say Alpha Logging failure to implement the payment of cubic meter fees on logs/timbers as agreed upon; and the company reluctance to address the issues of roads and bridges in its operational concession among others.

In a drive to amicable settle the perennial conflict, a team comprising of the Liberia Timber Association (LibTA) and Nature Development Foundation (NDF) on February 22, 2022 departed Monrovia and held a meeting with the parties to the conflict in Gorlu, Salayea District, Lofa County.

The mediation team which was headed by the LibTA also entertained views of the company which accused the citizens of carrying on farming and constant illegal pit sawing within its concessions.

The mediation team which was in the area (Gorlu) for three consecutive days, held extensive discussions with the parties through their various representatives as they were encouraged to choose constructive dialogue to remedy the problem and other conflicts occurring in the future.

Mr. E. Ekema A. Witherspoon, Head of Secretariat of LibTA told the parties that his organization and it international partner, NDF foremost interest is to ensure that peace reign in concessions between companies and citizens in the communities surrounding the concessions.

LibTA Technical Assistant, Abraham S. Corneh explained to both parties the importance of the Alternative Dispute Resolution method (Manuel) which was developed last year and cautioned parties that abruptly taking cases to court for redress was not the best option as there are other out of court remedies that could be sought.

He used the meeting with citizens and representatives of the company to inform and educate them on the motive of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Method, a concept document (Manuel) which is now being used by LibTA with support from NDF to settle confusion between concessions and citizens surrounding the concessions through dialogues  and void of  court actions.

It can be recalled that last year similar method of intervention was used by LibTA and the NDF to settle disputes involving a concession company in Rivercess County and villages surrounding the concession.

For his part, the Head of Secretary and National Facilitator of the National Union of Community Forest and Development Committee (NUCDCo) Mr. Andrew Y.Y. Zelemen observed that although Alpha Logging is yet to live up to it full commitment and obligations, it is the only company that has so far paid its Land Rental Fees up to 100% for this year 2022.

At the close of the three-day meeting in Gorlu, Salayea District, Lofa County, representatives of Alpha Logging and community leaders buried their differences, reconciled as the company recommitted itself to its obligations and assured LibTA and NDF that both parties will work together in the interest of all.

During the meeting, Alpha Logging representatives were led by Mr. Samuel T. Sapu, the communities’ team was led by its spokesman Mr. Charles D. Vesselee while NDF was represented by Glen Ansomaning.

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