The Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL) operations located in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties may have once again been hit by saboteurs, this time involving one of the company’s palm oil processing pipeline at the Mill.
According to news article published in The New Democrat Newspaper, a team of journalists who visited the company early last week following information from some residents, “observed that one of the pipelines being used at the Mill irrigation system to dispose of waste from the oil processing mill was damaged.
It quoted some residents: “When I went to the area to take a walk, we saw that the pipe was damaged, we were told by nearby people that some unknown individuals went there to remove the pipe,” Zeina R. Diggs said.
The paper reported that the action of the unknown individuals created pressure on one of the main pipelines at the company mill thereby leading to spillage around the mill and into nearby waterways and creeks.
It was suspected that the unknown individuals may have committed the act of sabotage on the night of 10th December as by the early morning hours the following day, workers at the Mill were shocked to find the pipeline leaking and sending spillage into the area. The pipeline had been in good condition prior to the finding on 11th December.
“We do not know why they burst the pipe. But we were told that they did so to affect production at the Mill,” Diggs added.
The paper quoted unnamed sources as saying that the company technicians were able to quickly handle the situation.
This alleged act of sabotage has affected the company’s production for a day. The financial effect on the company could not be ascertained as no senior manager was available for comment.
An employee of the company who said he was not authorized to speak told journalists that the company security has already reported the incident to the Liberia National Police and is also doing the same with the Environmental Protection Agency and is taking every measure to avoid any environmental issues within the vicinity of the Mill.
This is not the first time the company has come under such attack by unknown individuals. On numerous occasions, illegal palm harvesters have attacked the company security guards, wounding security officers with cutlasses and other deadly weapons.
SDPL has been operating its Mill for long period without any spillage or environmental issues but this latest act of sabotage is likely to pose serious challenge to the operations of the company.
The company has persistently complained to the Government of Liberia about challenges it faces in terms battling illegal harvesters and encroachment of their properties. This episode may become another serious issue for the company with a risk that it may be repeated on a larger scale.
According to sources, the company has put its security guards on high alert to tackle any other act of sabotage.