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The establishment of the SOCFIN Agricultural Company (SAC) in Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District, Southern Sierra Leone, has been accompanied by mass resentment among residents of the chiefdom, especially the landowners, many of whom are crying foul that they have been dispossessed of their land which the company has grabbed from them and destroyed, compensating them pittances.
During a recent interview with this medium, the disgruntled landowners accused the company of invading and devastating their lands in their absence and without their consent, paying them meager sums of money as compensation. “We were in Freetown when we received the shocking news that a SOCFIN bulldozer was in our plantations and by the time we reached Malen, our plantations, our only source of livelihood, were cleared fields, we wept,” the disgruntled landowners narrated, adding that they took their case to every concerned authority but never got justice, instead received pittances as compensation.
“We received few millions for fifty years occupation of our lands and even after that period, there is the slimmest possibility for us to regain and reoccupy them as we will have lost sight of the boundaries which have been tampered with.” They expressed fear, accusing the company surveyor, Alpha Nuni, of adding insult to their injuries by cheating them when surveying their lands. The landowners recalled that earlier attempts to peacefully resist the operations of the company landed some of their colleagues in cell and, subsequently, in court. “Some of us have almost exhausted the money given to us as compensation for our lands, how will we survive throughout the fifty years the company will be occupying our lands?”
They visibly aggrieved landowners called on government, SOCFIN and all other concerned authorities to consider and address their problem which they described as a recipe for chaos. “SOCFIN is sitting on a time bomb that can explode at anytime,” they warned.
By Joseph Milton Lebbie
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