James Mulbah, manager of community affairs at GVL Grand Kru operations said the training seeks to empower communities to understand how the GPS equipment works as it is being used during the participatory mapping, to calculate distances, hectares/acres and others operational field exercises.
“We want our partner communities to understand the functions of the GPS device and how to operate it. Practically, they were taught how to do tracking, take point, calculate distances, areas, record coordinates and navigates. In this way, they can cross check hectares we developed if they feel unsatisfied” said Mulbah.
James Mulbah explained that the community members who were trained to operate the GPS will serve as community representatives during and after participatory mapping, land preparation monitoring and any work that requires the usage of the GPS on community’s land.
“This is a big move by the company and for the communities. Now that communities understand what GPS is and how it works. We will continue to provide more training for our host communities to fully understand every aspect of our operations,” he said.
In separate remarks, the trainees described the training as a milestone for the communities and the company. The participants believed that the training shows and proves that GVL is fair and transparent in its operations, adding that GVL has shown community members that communities’ participation is vital in understanding land surveys and hectares/acres calculations.
Isaac Sugba, from Zoloken; Richard Toe, from Nemiah; Roosevelt Toe, from Garraway Beach, and Foley Ogbalah from Sorroken community lauded GVL for the training and boast that they are now knowledgeable of GPS. They disclosed that the training has helped dismiss and curtail perceptions in some communities that GVL has been cheating them when it comes to hectare/acres calculations.
“We have been working with GVL and the company has been using this GPS equipment and we never knew what GPS is. But today, we know the functions of GPS and how to operate it. From this training, we have realized and we will tell our respective communities that there is no cheating when it comes to land surveys and hectare/acres calculations using the GPS equipment” they said.
Acknowledging the training as observers, Matthew Geebah, city major of Sorroken city; Matthew Tweh, paramount chief of Po-river chiefdom; Paul Dortue, acting community representative committee (CRC) chairman of Ylatwen and Michael Collins, community representative committee (CRC) chairman of Sorroken community lauded Golden Veroleum Liberia for the skills training and the opportunity for their communities to learn how to operate the GSP equipment.
“We ourselves as observers have learned a lot about the GPS equipment. For some of us, it was the first time to hold GPS. Tomorrow when the company is doing work that requires GPS in our communities, we can represent our communities given the broad knowledge we accrued from the training. To admit, this shows that GVL is fair and transparent in its dealings with us as communities,” they concluded.
Several other participants applauded the efforts of GVL and expressed their gratitude for the opportunity afforded them by the company towards building their skills.
In a related development, Golden Veroleum Liberia has completed training for over 20 community members in Trembo and Garraway districts in hand pumps management and rehabilitation and has provided toolkits to these communities to maintain and repairs their pumps.
GVL’s Communications Officer in Grand Kru County, Darius Doe, said the hand pump training aims to empower and build the capacity of the communities to properly manage and take ownership of the hand pumps being rehabilitated and constructed by the company.
“We try to provide these skills training for the communities to take complete ownership of the hand pumps we have rehabilitated and constructed. Once these communities are trained, they will be able to repair their pumps in case of break down and damage as we have provided tools to them,” said Doe.
Mr. Doe disclosed similar training is coming up for Wedabo-GrandCess communities and subsequently Barclayville communities where the company is currently conducting free prior and informed consent process after being invited by communities in the area of oil palm expansion and development.
Golden Veroleum Liberia, the biggest private sector employer in Liberia Southeast is committed to working and developing with communities in the southeast. Several hand pumps have constructed in Sinoe and Grand Kru. GVL continues to carry out trainings for community residents who are employed in the areas of heavy equipment operation, GIS and oil palm development.