A delegation from the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), led by the Chairman, Board of Directors Mr. Johnathan George and the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma, embarked on an Aftercare visit to the Sierra Tropical Limited (STL) in Sumbuya, Lugbu Chiefdom, Bo District. This visit was however in union with the visitation of the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana accredited to Sierra Leone.
The Aftercare Service provided by SLIEPA, according to Sally Sulaiman-Gassama, the Manager of After Care & Event Management Department, is a range of activities undertaken by the Agency to ensure the retention of existing investors through follow up engagements thereby achieving the country’s development agenda through investment promotion and facilitation. This visit was conducted on 23rd February 2019. Sierra Tropical Limited (STL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dole Asia Holdings (DAH) establishing pineapple plantation and plans of an Agro-processing facility in Sumbuya, Lugbu chiefdom.
Calling the meeting to order, Hon. A.O Kamara of Constituency 078 and Chairman of the event, thanked all the visitors for gracing the event in their Chiefdom with a special attention.
Welcoming the guests, the Regent Chief, Modibo Fofanah, welcomed the team on behalf of his subjects. He affirmed that the community people are happy with the operations of STL in their Chiefdom since it is supporting development programmes for which they are grateful and ready to support the company. Chief Fofanah pleaded with STL to reciprocate their support by bringing more development to the chiefdom and its people because they lack a lot of amenities in the Chiefdom including, but not limited to good roads.
In his contribution, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SLIEPA, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma, thanked everyone especially the team from the Japanese Embassy in Ghana accredited to Sierra Leone for their continuous engagement on the project development and taking the time to visit Lugbu Chiefdom to have a first-hand information on the activities of STL and Government’s support to the project. He informed the people about the government’s support for STL and that SLIEPA will coordinate with all Parties to facilitate the STL project to achieve Government’s agenda for economic diversification. The CEO reiterated that SLIEPA is the legitimate intermediary between the government, investors, and the people of Sierra Leone in terms of investments.
Mr. Koroma went on to say that among other things the reason for the visit is for SLIEPA to make sure that STL and the Community people work hand in glove for the development of the Chiefdom and the country as a whole. He said, the people of Lugbu must be thankful for they are fortunate to have investment in their community that has huge prospect to transform their lives. He encouraged everyone to support the project in the interest of their Chiefdom and their Country.
Ushering the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana accredited to Sierra Leone, H.E Tsutomu HIMENO, The Company Secretary and Legal Representative, Centus Macauley, Esq. referred to the relationship between the Government, the Lugbu people and STL as a marriage. He called on all the parties to continue treating this marriage with love and kindness.
H.E Ambassador Tsutomu HIMENO thanked everyone for welcoming them to Lugbu Chiefdom and for supporting the company. He stated that he is in Lugbu because the Government of Japan is very much interested in the STL Project. H.E Ambassador HIMENO established that STL project is attracting a larger scope of other Japanese Companies apart from ITOCHU, so it is very much encouraging that the Government is fully supporting the project.
He further stated that, Japanese elements are very important in the Company because they can be trusted; saying that irrespective of the road infrastructure, the success of the company in Lugbu makes it possible for the company to contribute more. “with the government and the people of Japan we are now looking at the possibility of supporting vocational training in the Region.” He concluded.
Mr. Joe Demby, the Presidential Adviser for Economic and Financial Policy in the Office of the President, said President Bio’s interest in this project is for the benefit of the people, and the development of infrastructure in Lugbu. He said the success of the project will bring huge development in the Chiefdom. He further called on all parties to at any time engage with SLIEPA on any issues as they have the mandate to facilitate investment and provide credible aftercare services.
Resident Minister in the Southern Province, Mr. Mohamed K. Alie, underscored that their primary responsibility as a government is to ensure that the welfare of the people is achieved and to provide the conducive atmosphere for investors and their investments. The Minister said, as a Government they will work with all the stakeholders at all levels to ensure that this investment becomes a success for the people of Lugbu, the Government and for the STL.
The Honorable A.O Kamara of Constituency 078 and Chairman of the program, reiterated that Lugbu is far behind in terms of development and therefore asked the STL officials to consider developing the road infrastructure within the chiefdom.
In responding to the Honourable’s request, STL Director of Agriculture, Mr. Andrew Brooke-Smith, said there is considerable effort now being made on the part of STL to grade the road from Gateway to Sumbuya which will be done soonest. He further stated that the Sumbuya site was discovered to be the best out of three different locations; he confirmed that they have an excellent site and the first phase of the plantation covers 4,335 hectares that will be utilized in the next four to five years. Currently out of these, he said, 135 hectares are already in use with a workforce of about 523 locals for the pineapple plantation. Mr. Brooke-Smith said they have Community Development Action Plan (CDAP) that will look into the development of various areas within the communities.
As key to its Aftercare mandate, SLIEPA conveyed stakeholders’ meeting with STL and Chiefdom elders including the Southern Region Resident Minister and the Honorable of Constituency 078 in Sumbuya Township to highlight challenges and resolutions leading to progress.
The visit was climaxed by sightseeing of the STL pineapple plantation.