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Friday, July 19, 2024

ARRESTS MADE FOLLOWING ARSON AND LOOTING AT SALALA RUBBER CORPORATION OFFICES

Date:

LIBERIA – Police in Margibi County have arrested several individuals in connection with the arson and looting at the offices of Salala Rubber Corporation (SRC) in Weala. According to the Liberia News Agency, the crime services division of the Liberia National Police reported that about eight people, including two females, have been apprehended following the incident.

The unrest began on June 21, 2024, when tappers of SRC filed a 13-count grievance with the company’s management through their union leadership. The grievances included demands for better working conditions such as housing, medication, and ambulance services. The management of SRC addressed six of the 13 counts and proposed handling the remaining issues through a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to be negotiated with the workers’ union, the Ministry of Labor, and the General Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (GAAWUL).

After a five-day go-slow action, the tappers resumed work on Tuesday while discussions with management continued regarding payment for the lost workdays. However, management’s refusal to pay for the days lost in June led to the tappers’ violent outburst, resulting in significant property damage at the company.

Mary Boimah, the first female head of the union leadership at SRC, expressed shock and dismay over the tappers’ actions. She stated that the union and management were in the final stages of negotiating payment for the lost days when the general manager rejected the idea. Boimah condemned the violence and called for a swift investigation to bring those responsible to justice. “I will not condone acts of violence that will bring about the damaging of the company’s properties,” she stated.

The arrested suspects include Nowah Gibson, 50, who was caught with four bags of rice from the company’s warehouse, along with Joseph Tokpah, 40, and Anthony Williams, 38. Tokpah and Williams, both tappers from estate #1, were seen actively participating in the disturbance. A Nigerian national, identified as one of the main ringleaders who attempted to stab the general manager, Okoro, is currently on the run.

The Police Support Unit (PSU) of the Liberia National Police has been deployed in the area and is actively pursuing the remaining suspects involved in the attack on the SRC offices. The Weala area has a history of violence, including an incident on April 1, 2021, when citizens attacked and burned down public facilities and private homes. The eight arrested individuals are currently being processed and are expected to be forwarded to court for prosecution.

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