17.05.2005 Regional News

Guard dog attack dominates discussions at BOPP AGM

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Inchaban (W/R), May 17, GNA - Shareholders of the Benso Oil Palm Plantation (BOPP) spent a greater part of their first Annual General Meeting (AGM) discussing the recent incident involving a guard dog and a farmer.

The incident happened on March 17 when security personnel of the company used guard dogs to attack one Kofi Lokko, a farmer of Adum Banso.

Though the incident did not feature on the agenda of the AGM, shareholders expressed concern about the incident and said the truth surrounding the case must be made public.

Most of the shareholders including the representative of the Ghana Institute of Surveyors expressed misgivings about such incidents. They said it does not augur well for a company to use guard dogs to intimidate and harass inhabitants and that such acts could strain the good relationship that exist between the company and the community and retard the expansion of the company.

The shareholders suggested to management to institute investigations or assist the police to do thorough investigations and to publish the details without delay to ease tension and safeguard their investments. It would be recalled that Mr Lokko was returning from his farm when personnel of the Delta West Security Company, who are in charge of security at BOPP, unleashed the giant dogs on the victim, alleging that he stole some palm fruits from the company's farms.

Mr Ismael Yamson, the Board Chairman of BOPP, expressed his sympathy for the victim and said the incident was unfortunate but stressed that the dogs are only used to scare people from stealing oil palm fruits. He said the management of BOPP would assist the police in its investigations and ensure that such incidents do not occur again.

Mr Yamson said the victim has been receiving periodic medical treatment at the company's clinic and it was not true that BOPP had abandoned him. He said the major problem confronting the plantation was stealing of oil palm fruits and if this was not checked the investments of shareholders would run down.

Mr Yamson said the leaf miner infestation affected the volumes of oil palm fruits and the company lost 13 per cent of the crops.

"The leaf miner pest will always be found in any plantation but we hope to focus more on the detection and control of the pest," he added. Mr Yamson assured shareholders that a surveillance and monitoring of the disease would be stepped up while BOPP would also stock chemical used to control the disease in the event of an unexpected outbreak.

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