The Government of Sierra Leone’s (GoSL) credibility is at stake if news of a new 20-year agreement with Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited for the lease of the Pepel Railway and Port is anything to go by.

This will be in clear violation of a Lease Agreement the GoSL signed with ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms (ARISE IIP) on 17 January 2023 for the latter to develop, expand, and manage the Pepel Railway and Port. On 26th April, 2023 President Julius Maada Bio graced the groundbreaking ceremony for developing the Koya Industrial Zone (SIZ-Koya) spearheaded by ARISE IIP.

That agreement is legal and still in force.

What is not in force, however, is the previous agreement between the GoSL and Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited for the management of the same Port which was terminated on 10 January 2023 to accommodate a new, reputable, and reliable industry player in ARISE IIP.

Even worse is the allegation that Kingho will be paying the GoSL an annual lease rent of US$ 1.5 million according to the proposed 20-year agreement; a lease rent industry players are describing as not only ridiculous but also insulting to the Government and People of Sierra Leone. It is also alleged that a few high-placed people in the current Cabinet and Parliament are the ones pushing for the Kingho agreement to go through to benefit their selfish interests rather than the people of Sierra Leone.

The GoSL risks undermining investors’ confidence if they continue in this direction of reneging on their commitments and obligations to signed contracts or agreements.

Meanwhile, in line with their Lease Agreement with the GoSL, ARISE IIP has procured and shipped seven passenger railcars from Japan, which are expected at the Freetown Port on 26 October 2023. General Manager of Interface at Arise IIP, Samuel Komba Kambo, said the Company is earnestly and diligently preparing for the reception of these railcars, including the mobilisation of the necessary equipment to safely unload, transport, and park them along the rail infrastructure.

It is expected that with the commencement of passenger train transportation by ARISE IIP the impact will be significant as there are many people to benefit from it at the initial stage before any move is made to expand the routes that these commercial railcars will later on ply.

The project will expand economic activities by providing jobs for Sierra Leoneans and enable passengers’ locomotion from Tonkolili through Bombali to the Port Loko district.

Currently, the Company is undertaking massive infrastructural works at the SIZ-Koya industrial zone, and this asset, in line with ARISE IIP’s ambition to unlock Africa’s industrial potential, will support Sierra Leone in advancing the country’s industrialisation agenda.

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