By Sallu Kamara; SM Contributor
The Government of Sierra Leone has signed a new landmark agreement for the development, expansion and management of the Pepel Port and Pepel – Tonkolili Railway with ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms Ltd. The country would get a better deal, in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone.
Speaking on behalf of the government, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Timothy Kabba, said the agreement is part of the bigger reforms in the mining sector, where the government intends to open the space for more players to participate. He further said that ARISE IIP is a credible company with a reputation for developing and managing infrastructure in Africa. He further said that ARISE IIP is a credible company with a reputation for developing and managing infrastructure in Africa. “This agreement is taking a government asset from the monopoly to be more accessible. The revival of the mining operation requires significant investment in infrastructure for the country to fully benefit from the growth of its mining output,” said Mr Kabba.
People are celebrating and falling in love with the new plan of Sierra Leoneans getting a fairer deal. This lease agreement will give a 10 per cent free carry to the Government of Sierra Leone and provide access to rail and port facilities to other bulk mineral producers in the northern corridor of the country.
Rose Thompson – an expert from the diaspora welcomed the signing of the agreement and congratulated the government for this initiative. “This is a sound legal agreement. It’s fit for purpose. This is about creating a level playing field, with a view to allow other independent players such as ARISE company to be involved. We hope this is the end of monology in th management of rail and port in Sierra Leone. Transparency is curial. However, citizens must stay alert and ensure this deal is implemented as stated in the agreement. Civil society, the media and everyone have important role to play to ensure a level playing field.”
It is not business as usual: the government were serious, conducting extensive economic calculations and making plans for how the takeover would work. The Government’s goal was not to continue with business as usual, but to turn a new page, and present a better deal to the people of Sierra Leone.
It is a plan that has gained traction around the country. A growing number of campaigners, economists and legal scholars now believe that there is an economic case for getting ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms Ltd involved: Through this agreement, the company will also introduce passenger rail services allowing communities for better mobility, trade, and increased mineral export with an additional 20 million MT, a 10 per cent dividend to the government, surface rent to landowners, annual royalties PAYE and other taxes.
Community Youth Leader, Mustapha Kamara said: ‘’The coming of ARISE is a dream come through, especially at a time when the country needs economic boost. This agreement presents massive opportunity including job creation. It is all good news a passenger train will be created to help our people in remote parts of the country. We applaud the government’s effort”.
The economic case for signing this new landmark agreement for the development, expansion and management of the Pepel Port and Pepel – Tonkolili Railway with ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms Ltd can be linked to the track record of the company.
Minister of Finance Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura has stated that ARISE IIP is a sector specialist firm with a proven record across Africa in managing infrastructure. He said they are signing this agreement after several consultations, due diligence, and approval from the cabinet with concurrence from the Ministry of Finance. He furthered that this agreement is in the best interest of the government and people of Sierra Leone and that after the signing, the agreement will be taken to parliament for ratification. The business plan, financial model and pre-feasibility studies are estimating a total investment of USD 476 million covering the refurbishment of the Pepel – Tonkolili Railway work, Pepel Port, Railway connectivity to Marampa mines, the introduction of passenger rail services and the rail connection to Guinea.
It sounds like a massive investment, which would put millions into the country’s economy. But this plan would work best if the people of Sierra Leone are engaged, informed, and supported to understand the benefits of this new deal. It would be great if everyone could act together on a large scale, supporting a new dawn in the management of the country’s resources. Holding the keys to all these mining sites would mean citizens could hold the balance of powers and help create a level playing field for everyone. This would bring massive boost to the economy.
Signing for ARISE IIP, Managing Director, Jesper Harring Boll stated that they are conceivers, developers and operators of high-added-value infrastructure committed to making Africa thrive with an investment of several billion dollars and a good track record across many countries in Africa like Benin, Togo, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Tchad, RoC, DRC or Rwanda. He continued that ARISE IIP identifies gaps in African countries that unlock value and create new industries to create local transformation and maximize production, efficiency and cost to generate growth and local value addition.