Sando Fahnbulleh, 57, is among the first female town Chiefs of her village, Karnga, which is in Zodua Clan. Chief Sando said Karnga is proud to become one of three villages that had surrendered land to Sime Darby Plantations for the cultivation of oil palm.
Even though Sando’s rubber farm was not qualified to get corps compensation because it falls within a 2 kilometer buffer zone that Sime Darby sets aside to each town as part ofSDPL’s policy for land expansion and acquisition, she remains grateful that the nightmare of bad road is over. With good roads, Sando says she and other women will be able to transport food crops to markets nearby to earn additional income.
The rehabilitation of the more than 40 kilometer road that stretches across Sinjeh to Gbesseh, for almost a week according to her, is a mark of fidelity by Sime Darby.
“I woke up one morning to the sound of the yellow machines on our road. When I saw the company fixing our roads it made me feel happy. It shows that we didn’t make the wrong choice by letting SimeDaby in our area, and that we can trust the company.”
Sando said the last time Zodua road was rehabilitated was in 2007. Since then, her clan has faced huge challenges of getting vehicles into the area due to bad road. Sick people, pregnant women and children according to the chief, have borne the brunt of the lack of good roads.
Conditions in the area are very dire, the chief told this paper, adding that the hope of many people, old and young, would have vanished if Sime Darby had insisted it was not coming to the area because of the challenges it faced in the past over land acquisition in Liberia. Clinics, roads, and safe drinking water are like luxury in most parts of Liberia, Zodua not excluded.
According to Chief Sando, Zodua residents were not the only beneficiaries of the road. She said because the only bridge that links Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount Counties had spoiled, commuters were now using Zodua road as an alternative route to get their goods to those parts of the country.
Petty traders in their numbers from different areas were also seen with food and other commodities in Zodua. One of the traders, Miatta Kaidii said they are aware that people have money in the area because they were getting money for their crops.
“Besides that, plenty people from Monrovia and other parts of the country will soon start to come here. When you bring anything like food or regular household things people will buy it;” Miatta said.
Morris Sembeh is the general town chief of Zodua Clan and a strong opinion leader among his people. He has held the post foryears prior to and after the Liberian Civil War. A father of 17 children, he believes the best he has done for the future of his offspring was to be a part of the decision to let Sime Darby move into his clan.
Grateful Sembeh, beaming with smile, could only but recite the Al Fatihaa verse from the Holy Koran. He said as a Muslim, the verse was usually read for people who need the protection and blessings of God.
“Sime Darby is our true friend. What you’re seeing me doing, the people of Zodua have not done this for any other company. But I can tell you this for sure- I can see a future for our children. I can see a better day for this clan. Zodua is about to open”! Sembeh said with a passionate voice.
“Our children are already getting employed, even though Sime Darby is still far from beginning the real work. We were told to recommend some young people from each village to get employed- I was not even expecting this”, Chief Sembeh added.