Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited according to Global Times newspaper, has embarked on legal action against the Government of Sierra Leone for issuing a termination notice to them relating to the use, management, maintenance and rehabilitation of the railway and port between Tonkolili and Pepel in the Port Loko district.
The newspaper on its Monday 23rd January, 2023 front page reported that the Lease Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and Kingho Railway and Port Company was signed on 8th January, 2021.
It said Section 2.03 of the said Agreement is very explicit: “The Lessor and the Lessee agree that the Lessor reserves the right to engage another Railway and Port Operator to independently operate the Railway and Port after the first two years of the term herein granted, subject to a six months’ notice to the Lessee after the first two years (transition period)”.
Since the two years of the Agreement has elapsed, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mohamed Lamin Tarawalley, in a letter dated 10th January, 2023 informed the Chief Executive Officer of Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited, Gilbert Zhao, that the Government has “engaged another Railway and Port Operator to independently operate the Railway and Port”.
He has already served a six months’ notice to Kingho Railway and Port to “vacate the demised properties in an orderly manner”.
Instead of approaching the Government to address their concerns, Global Times newspaper reported that Kingho Railway and Port have resorted to legal action in order to embarrass the Government.
“Last week, Cabinet approved the termination of the Agreement with Kingho to manage the Railway and Port and approved the Agreement to manage the same facilities with a renowned company called ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms Limited” the newspaper reported.
According to records seen by the Global Times in the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, in 2022, a total of 5,776.342 tons of Iron Ore was hauled by Kingho from Tonkolili Iron Ore mine to the Pepel Port in Port Loko. The Railway plays an important role in Kingho through the transportation of Iron Ore.
A senior official in the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice noted last night that the Government of Sierra Leone acted “within the law and in good faith” to terminate the Lease Agreement between them and Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited.
At a press conference in Freetown last week, Kingho Railway and Port expressed determination to contest the Government’s decision to terminate the lease agreement.
A retired legal luminary who has seen and read the lease agreement noted last night that “The Government of Sierra Leone acted within the terms of the said agreement”. He warned Kingho to explore “dialogue” instead of resorting to a protracted legal battle.