2 police officers injured, 20 arrested
By Victoria Saffa
Twenty people have been arrested by police in connection with the riot that broke out at the Palm Oil Production Project in Mattru Jong, Bonthe District, southern Sierra Leone, while two police officers who sustained injuries are currently being treatment, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Richard Moigbeh, told newsmen at last Thursday’s Ministry of Information and Communications’ weekly press briefing in Freetown.
Reports are that the Senior Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo and Chief of Staff at State House, Dr. Richard Konteh had engaged the people of Mattru Jong in relation to the palm oil production project, and how government intends utilizing the facilities in the interest of Sierra Leoneans and more especially the people of Mattru Jong.
According to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, immediately after the state officials had left the shores of Mattru Jong, some stakeholders within the chiefdom allegedly incited the people not to agree with the government proposal of taking over the oil palm project, thus leading to the riot in the community on Monday May 19.
He said the windscreen of a vehicle belonging to the Family Support Unit of the police with registration number AGR 362 and the official vehicle of the Local Unit Commander in Bonthe were damaged allegedly by the rioters.
“Twenty people have been arrested at the Lauwa Chiefdom [in Mattru Jong] and they are presently helping the police with the investigation,” DIG Moigbeh said.
It could be recalled that some local leaders in the Lauwa Chiefdom had protested against the project being implemented in their area, as according to them, “only a private investor can salvage our wretched situation”.
Meanwhile, the Palm Oil Production Project in Sierra Leone was funded by the Islamic Development Bank and the Government of Sierra Leone and the intention of the project is to establish a 7,008 acres of oil palm plantation of which 3,600 has already been done in Mattru Jong. The remaining area is to be planted between 2014/2015.
Also, the main purpose of the project is to build a factory capable of processing 10 metric tons of palm oil per hour in Mattru Jong. The project will also build three schools, three health centres, two markets, three water points and construct 60 kilometres of feeder road, as well as 10 staff quarters and two office complexes in the host communities. These facilities have already been approved by the Islamic Development Bank and construction will commence soon.