By Edwin G. Wandah: From Grand Gedeh, River Gee Disputed border
The ongoing border dispute between Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties is said to be seriously taking another serious trend with local residents in the two counties bitterly antagonistic to each other.
Recently, when the INQUIRER visited the two counties and spoke with the two Counties’ Superintendents, it was realized that the rumors that had been speculated in Monrovia about the border crisis need serious attention.
There is growing concern about some violation of a 4km buffer zone which River Gee believes was allegedly trespassed by Grand Gedeh County, something that is fermenting tension in the area amongst the local residents for claims that River Gee made that its citizens are becoming victimized since they obeyed the 4km buffer zone and believe that Grand Gedeh has totally violated the buffer zone restriction.
During this paper’s visit to the bordering areas, Grand Gedeh Superintendent Peter L. Solo stated that the crisis needed serious attention from the Government of Liberia to buttress the efforts of the two counties’ Legislative Caucuses’ quest to restore peace and unity in the area.
According to Superintendent Peter L. Solo, the land issue has been before the two Caucuses of Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties and although, he was hopeful of a peaceful resolution but believes the intervention of the Government of Liberia could speed up with the resolution of the land crisis.
“Our Caucuses have been informed about the issue and we believe that they will intervene as soon as possible to bring the crisis under control,” Supt. Solo stated.
He stated further that the area in question covers 400 acres of farm land and dominantly occupies the Putu-Kelibo District area of Putu Mining Concession site and largely owned by Grand Gedeh County and not River Gee as being perceived by some individuals in River Gee County.
When the INQUIRER visited River Gee County recently, Mr. Kelvin Quenneh who is the County Inspector of River Gee County and charged with the responsibility of representing River Gee County on the mediating table for the border dispute, alleged that the residents of Grand Gedeh County have been the major instigators in fueling tension at the border.
According to the County Inspector, the land in question was given to the Grand Gedeans to carry on some communal farming activities by the Kelibo women who were married to the men of Grand Gedeh and that the land was not given to them through traditional agreement for permanent ownership. But according to him during the an investigation, the people of Putu (basically Grand Gedeans) showed a tree as the boundary of the land, but Kelibo people who are actually believed to be the rightful owner of the land showed a creek called Jebeh which divides the two areas. The tree and the river divide the area into a 4km buffer zone apart.
Mr. Kelvin Quenneh said since the dispute began in 2012, River Gee County had complied with the 4km buffer zone, but alleged that Grand Gedeans have since violated the buffer zone restrictions and have been carrying on farming activities and even building structures to live in.
According to him recently a team of journalists and UNMIL verification team were taken to the area to verify if the 4km buffer zone restriction has been violated, or with one party carrying on the violation in the Putu-Kelibo District area.
When the INQUIRER, along with River Gee County District #1 Representative, Johnson Toe Chea and River Gee Superintendent, Daniel G. Johnson visited the disputed site with some police officers and several elders of the County, there were several farming activities been carried out in the area by some Grand Gedeans.
“Arriving at the site, we bumped into at least ten persons; women and men who threw insults at us immediately after we disembarked a 4-Wheel Drive Toyota vehicle,” our reporter stated.
“Superintendent Daniel G. Johnson stood calm, speechless and only made signs to indicate where the entire dispute was and by then the noise of insults filled our ears and the men grew in their numbers thereby forcing us to return to Fish Town,” our reporter averred.
Meanwhile, several residents in Fish Town have lauded Superintendent Daniel G. Johnson for his continuous advocacy and intervention into the land dispute. The citizens said that the Superintendent and other lawmakers in county have done well in seeing that the land issue be laid to rest.