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18.07.2005 Business & Finance

Palm fruit theft undermines BOPP operations


Takoradi, July 18, GNA - The rampant stealing of palm fruits from the plantations of the Benso Oil Palm Plantation (BOPP) is gradually undermining the efforts of the Company to diversify and expand its operations.

The thieves, who are usually armed with guns, cutlasses and clubs, operate mainly in the night and move in groups of 10 and 20. The Management of BOPP has, therefore, appealed to people in the various communities in the area, who are mostly out-growers to support the efforts of the Company to check the activities of the thieves. It said the programme to further reduce poverty and unemployment would be seriously jeopardised if the stealing continued at th current rate. In a statement signed by Mr Kwesi Otoo, Human Resource Manager of BOPP, the Company said the activities of thieves had also instilled fear in the security personnel, as the thieves attacked and inflicted cutlass wound on them.

For instance, it said on April 29 2005 at about 0200 hours, a group of about 20 men believed to have come from Adum-Banso, armed with guns and cutlasses attacked two security guards on the plantation and inflicted cutlass wounds on one of them.

The statement said the latest attack was on June 6, when thieves fired on security guards on the plantation at about at about 1130 hours, but the guards escaped unhurt.

Another incident occurred on June 3 at about 1630 hours, when three men were spotted stealing harvested palm fruits.

They attacked the security guard on duty, Mr Freeman Ghartey of the Delta Security Services, who had his right fingers almost chopped off, when he blocked a cutlass blow aimed at his head. In a related development, a Magistrate's court at Sekondi on Thursday sentenced Adokoh Anorful, a "galamsey" operator resident at Adum-Banso to three months' imprisonment for stealing palm fruits on the plantation of BOPP.

Security guards on the plantation arrested the accused. He pleaded guilty to the charge of stealing palm fruits. Eleven people arrested for similar offences since January 2005 have either been jailed or fined by the courts.