Investors in Gambella cry foul over maladministration, corruption

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Commercial farm investors in Abobo Werada, Gambella are complaining about corruption and maladministration in the area which is hindering their businesses and preventing them from expanding.
Agro businesses in corn, sorghum, mug bean, and sesame, said the unsafe environment has delayed thirty businesses from opening.
One investor who asked to be anonymous said that his corn is frequently vandalized and stolen by migrants coming from South Sudan. “The government really wants to have more commercial farming but in order to do that the environment needs to be safe to attract more commercial investors. Abebeo has fertile land suitable for many crops but there is a problem with security. Many migrants have come with their animals, damaged my farms and stolen my corn. Another problem that occurs is that I am asked to give money to government workers when I pay taxes, renew my license and sell my products. All these hinder my business.”
Guay Sissay who received 500 hectares in the area said that when he cleared trees to till land, he tried to make charcoal out of the wood he cut. However, the bureau confiscated his license.
“When they gave me the farm for commercial agriculture work, it was full of tree and other plants so I had to cut the trees and clear the place to plant the sesame and mug bean and they told me that I could use the cut trees for charcoal so I got the proper letter to do that. Then I began to make charcoal with the trees and pay royalty payments to the region. However, a few months ago they came to my farm and confiscated over 5,000 quintals of charcoal worth over 1.3 million birr.”
“I asked them why they took the charcoal out of my yard and they told me that I was indulging in illegal charcoal making and I said that they were the ones who gave me the permission to do that but they didn’t want to listen me and instead seized the coal and one of my cars and I saw that the tires of the car was moved into the Abobo Wereda and then they were chasing me in order to arrest me although I did nothing wrong.”
Okre Omud, head of Abebeo Werda said “Yes we gave investors a license to make charcoal but it was illegally given by some people so we stopped this and confiscated the charcoal. In terms of cases of corruption and maladministration we have done many things to improve this situation now over 90 investors including the billionaire Mohamed al-Amoudi are working here safely.”
In related news, journalists who went to Gambella to report about the issue including Capital’s reporter were detained for three hours by the region’s police and were ordered to delete any recordings.