….Sime Darby Guards Shun Advanced Training on Combating Theft
Monrovia- As one of the investors in post war Liberia, Sime Darby Plantation Liberia struggles to fight palm theft at its plantation, this paper has gathered from senior police officers that the company security guards have shunned an advanced police training exercise.
Some veterans from the Liberian National Police Training Academy organized the training as part of the Government of Liberia support to protect the investor especially having a well equipped security to combat theft.
The training experts who have performed similar training at a large scale for government, international organisations as well as private entities were left perplexed when they arrived at the company facilities to conduct the exercise only to see that the company security have refused to attend the training.
According to some of the trainers, the training was also intended to conduct in-service training for the Sime Darby Security to enable them battle the increase in palm theft at the plantation.
“But when the trainers arrived for the process, many of SDPL security officers refused to attend the training on grounds that they were already trained and did not need further training,” a senior security officer told this paper.
The training was triggered by reports from locals as well as some security officers that some of the security officers performance was unprofessional and needed more training. More to that, they have, at some point in time, failed to protect some of the managers and protect some facilities of the company in time of demonstrations.
In addition to that, the Government of Liberia seeing the need that the company was undergoing series of challenges, it decided to embark on building the capacity of the security so as to reduce the palm theft.
“Do you know that when a security guard disobeys order it is considered being rebellious”, one police officer said.
Moreover, some community dwellers in nearby surroundings at Sime Darby plantation have informed this paper that many of the security officers were allegedly involved into palm theft.
“Some of the same security officers are in deal with the criminals to steal from the company. Many of their relatives and friends have illegal Mills. So, it is difficult at times for the security of carried out arrest and even cooperate,” Roland P. Keadi, a resident of the Gbah Town said.
Realizing the stance of the security and the increased in palm theft, the government decided to carry out raid of illegal oil palm processing mills around Sime Darby Plantation.
Police Spokesperson Moses Carter confirmed that they confiscated over 15 illegal oil palm processing mills, three (3) single barrel guns, several gallons of processed oil palm, bags and brunches of harvested fresh fruits, amongst other items.
Carter further explained that thirteen (13) suspects were arrested amongst them were three (3) females and ten (10) males.
Asked if the police obtained permit from the court for such exercise, he confirmed it. He said the police obtained a Search and Seizure Warrant to carry out the operations. “This operations is an ongoing one, so we will give provide more details in subsequent time” he said.
A top security officer at the plantation said when the company security guards are provided further in-service training, they will be in the best position to handle the theft situation.
“This effort by the police is in furtherance of a recent commitment by the President when he met Sime Darby officials and promised that the Government of Liberia will take every necessary steps to assist the company resolves some of the challenges facing the company including palm theft”, one police source confided to reporters.
“When the police raid the illegal mills and leave, it is possible that those engaged in these illegal actions return. So, to solve this problem, we decided to conduct special in-service training for the company security”, this, the source said prompted the in-service training exercise.
During the second date set aside for the exercise, the bulk of the company security guards again refused to show up for the second time.
The source said the LNP told the Sime Darby management to rearrange a
Another source hinted this paper that the defiant posture by the Sime Darby Security guards is clearly shows that the security guards are involved in the palm theft at the plantation.
“It is hard to understand this kind of behavior, where people who should be protecting a company are refusing to acquire training that will improve their performance on the job”, one police officer told this reporter.
It is not known what action the company would take against the defiant security officers. But under the CBA, Collective Bargaining Agreement signed between the company and employees, no security officer is to carry out defiant posture against management.
“For a security to refuse order two times is very serious. That will undermine the efforts to fight palm theft. Sime Darby should not take this lightly or else they will have serious problem”, another security source told reporters.
In recent months there have been trading of allegations against the company security guards with some members of the local communities blaming the company security for aiding palm theft.
When the police carried out raid this week to remove illegal mills at the plantation, it was discovered that some of Sime Darby Security were indirect contact with the illegal mill operators.
Some residents even alleged that some of the security officers were owners of some illegal mills thus making it difficult for them to effect any arrest in the past.