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Worried Over Socfin’s Safety

Worried Over Socfin’s Safety

Not too long ago, two top officials of the giant Socfin Agricultural Company (SAC) in Sahn Malen, Pujehun District, came under gun attack leaving one of them wounded. Those suspected of being behind the attack were promptly arrested and are being tried in court.

Such daring attack on the company’s Managers has been a cause for the concern of this press, especially when the company keeps operating among a large number of dissentient landowners who believe they were cheated in the land lease agreement that established the multi-million Dollar agricultural investment.

The disgruntled landowners keep complaining that they were woefully under-compensated for their lands and were never properly involved in the negotiation process. This triggered the formation of the Malen Land Owners Association (MALOA) which has been vehemently agitating for a revisit of the land lease agreement.

Now that the company’s Managers have started coming under gun attack, there is every reason for this medium to be worried over its safety, more so when, even before the gun attack, there had been attempts by apparently discontented people to disrupt the operations of the company.

We strongly hold the view that it is highly dangerous for Socfin to be operating among aggrieved landowners who are evidently not satisfied with the way the company took over their lands and plantations. Moreover, there have been visible signs of potential unrest in that part of the country as evident in the gun attack on the company’s senior officials and the sporadic attempts to disturb its operations.

We should not wait until it is too late; government must ensure that the Malen land lease dispute is laid to a permanent rest by revisiting the lease agreement to appease the landowners. Arrest, detention and prosecution of agitating landowners suspected of trying to disrupt the company cannot solve the problem but is only adding insult to injury. Government must not continue to sweep under the carpet the Malen land lease conflict as it is a recipe for chaos.

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