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Paramount Chiefs embrace Palm Oil Project 

March 17, 2015

The Paramount Chief of Jong Chiefdom, Alie Badara Sheriff III and his colleague at Sogbini Chiefdom in the Bonthe District have voiced their commitment to support the Palm Oil Production Project being implemented in the southern district.

Speaking at a ceremony to hand over contractors and sites for the construction of schools, multi-purpose centres, markets and health centres, among other facilities on Saturday 7th Match, PC Sheriff III described the event as a very happy day for him and the people of Jong and Sogbini chiefdoms to be witnessing the start of development through the Palm Oil Project.

He acknowledged that he sacrificed himself for about 11 years to ensure the landholding families benefit from the project.

“I would not deviate from the agreement signed at State House with the government,” PC Sheriff III stated, adding that the package for the people of the two chiefdoms is now available. He admonished the people of both chiefdoms to forget the past and forge ahead with the development of their communities, noting that whosoever tries to incite the people against the project does not mean well for the people and the district.

“I advice that you cooperate with the government and channel your grievances through the right people,” he urged.

Project Coordinator, Alusine Kallon, stressed that he is the servant of the people while the Paramount Chiefs are the leaders of the project.

He disclosed that they would be constructing schools, multipurpose centres, health centres, markets, among others, to demonstrate the project’s commitment to the betterment of the two communities. Recalling that the project has been in existence since 1970, Mr. Kallon appealed to the host communities to bury the past and support the project to achieve its set objectives.

Presidential Adviser on Agriculture, Dr. Sheku Gibril Kamara, informed that throughout their engagement with the local authorities of both Jong and Sogbini chiefdoms, they have always put the interest of the people first; disclosing that the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has approved all funding for the commencement and full implementation of the project.

“The community would own part of the project through the public/private partnership supported by the government. The President has bigger plans for Bonthe District, so let us allow the project to succeed,” Dr. Kamara entreated.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, noted that the IDB had decided against the continuation of the project due to the lack of proper management in place before 2007.

“The IDB had a rethink to support the project again when the APC government took over power in 2007, even though we had maintained the project before this time,” Dr. Sesay said, adding that the government does not believe in taking development only to their strongholds but even to opposition grounds.

“The APC does not lie but delivers on its promises to the people. We would enter all opposition areas and spread development there irrespective of politics. There is more in the pipeline for the people of Bonthe District,” the minister assured.

He disclosed that the new Linking Farmers to Market (LFM) project in the district would see the construction of four Agriculture Business Centres (ABCs), rehabilitation of 70 kilometres of roads and Inland Valley Swamps (IVS), and the provision of 10-tonne trucks to enhance the movement of produce to market.

“We would do more, more and more through the effort and commitment of the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma,” Dr. Sesay noted while thanking the communities for their patience and understanding.

In officially unveiling the contractors and land for the commencement of the various construction works, the Chief of Staff at State House, Saidu Conton Sesay, expressed the thanks and appreciation of the President to the people of Bonthe District for their commitment in the fight against the Ebola disease.

The President, he stated, has vowed that the Palm Oil Project should succeed, “so do not allow a few people to stall this effort”.

He referenced Malaysia’s prosperity to the proper and sustainable management of palm oil plantations – seedlings of which were obtained from Sierra Leone several years back.

The Chief of Staff stressed that the people need assurances as much as they should also take responsibility for the successful implementation of the project.

“Do not create unnecessary problems but bring solutions to the issues for a permanent resolution of any disputes. The chiefs should take full responsibility of the project while liaising with the people for stability and sustenance of this project,” the Chief of Staff emphasised.

Speaker of Sogbini Chiefdom, J.J. Vincent, rendered the vote of thanks.