No hiding place for Monopoly in the Oil Industry
The arrival of the All Petroleum Products Sierra Leone (APP-SL) has threatened the operations of the National Petroleum (NP-SL), who, before this time, strongly believed that monopoly within the oil industry is the only way out for them.
APP which happens to be multi-million dollars Investment Company from the United States of America, and championed by a Sierra Leonean alongside his Nigerian brother, has invested over twenty million dollars at the defunct old oil refinery of Sierra Leone, transforming it to a state-of-the-art refinery. Sierra Leoneans have been going through pain in the hands of NP-SL, who has, on several occasions, put pressure on all the governments, both past and present, to increase the pump price of fuel, even when no such increment is seen in the international market.
According to investigation mounted by this writer, NP-SL usually get their products from Petro Leone, an agency importing fuel through Addax, on credit, which they later sell to the public, making huge and excessive profits.
Investigations has also uncovered that with the presence of APP, NP-SL and Leon oil (oil marketing companies) are currently doing all they can to monopolize the Petroleum market in the country, and in this regard, have turned on the regulatory body (PRA) and the Ministry of Trade for simply saying that ‘it is enough of the monopoly, let us have fresh and healthy competition’. Whilst NP-SL is feeding the public with falsehood over the activities of the Ministry of Trade and the PRA, officials in those institutions know that they are working in the best interest of all Sierra Leoneans, and are desirous of getting a situation where fuel is in regular supply and the nation is not held to ransom by NP-SL and its cohorts.
APP-SL Limited is a Sierra Leone-based and pan-African-owned energy company involved in the importation, marketing, and distribution of high-quality and global industry-standard petroleum products. With an extensive network of retail outlets and significant storage facilities in Sierra Leone, the company procures and distribute petrol (PMS), diesel (AGO), kerosene (DPK), and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and with other services like packaging and distribution of a wide range of high-quality lubricants.
Whilst NP-SL is suggesting that the APP-SL is not a credible petroleum company, it is failing to realise that the very government that leased the concession to them is the same government that went into agreement with APP-SL. It also failed to realise that the land leased to them is in the interest of the public and therefore state land, as a result, the state has every right to lease portion of the said area to another competitor. It is not a family property, but public property under the protection of the government of Sierra Leone, in this case the Minister of Trade and Industry and the PRA.
It could be recalled that APP-SL was registered in April 2019 with 100% African interest (Nigerian and Sierra Leonean ownership), signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Sierra Leone, commenced rehabilitation work at the Tank Farm in November 2019, signed and completed the Environment Protection Agency process in April 2020, and an agreement was approved by Cabinet in October 2020 and ratified by the Parliament in December 2020. All these facts show the legality of the presence of the APP-SL in the country. Is the NP-SL insinuating that some dubious thing happened for the APP-SL to be given the lease?
Investigations mounted by this press have revealed that there is massive development taking place at the once dilapidated Old Kissy Oil Refinery, as the APP-SL has embarked on rehabilitating and introducing new structures and pipes at the refinery, including the construction of a standard jetty where oil tankers can berth and off load their products easily, an action believed by the government and the PRA as one that will bring a lasting solution to the petroleum industry in the country. Whilst the new company is doing its best to ease the burden of accessibility of oil tankers and increase the quantity of products that could be delivered, with the erection of huge storage tanks, far bigger than those of NP-SL, which means more fuel will be stored and the all too familiar shortage of fuel, which has been the trump card of dealers like NP-SL and others to increase prices of petroleum products, will forever be addressed, this action by APP-SL has been seen by its rivals as obstructing their business. Yes; it could be obstruction of their business, because the government of President Bio says that it is not going to be business as usual. This is the new direction and things should be done differently within the law for the benefit of the whole nation and not for any particular group or individual.
Activities of APP-SL so far has had applause from many residents in the area, as they are envisaging a complete change in their lives, judging by what they are witnessing now from the company. Work on the jetty is said to be at an advanced stage, and youths in that area are part of the work force in that endeavour, the road leading to the terminal will soon be completed, and vehicular traffic to that area will be eased and security improved, sources close to the APP-SL disclosed.
This is the story of the Vice President of the United Polio Brothers and Sisters Organization, Patrick Melvin Kamara, living in the community: He explained that they were living in a very terrible community before the entering of APP-SL, which has completely changed a once ‘Danger zone’ for people to a more comfortable environment. He revealed that APP’s presence has created a huge impact in their lives after the company engaged them about their investment plans. “The old oil refinery occupied by APP was a danger zone where wild animals like snakes live. Now we have found ourselves in a very comfortable zone,” Kamara said and furthered that APP is provide training to community youth on various skills, it has provided foodstuffs and other supports during the fight against COVID, and also provided support in the Holy Month of Ramadan to the Muslim Community. “Other companies have abandoned us over years. NP that is the oldest has never provided a dime to us. APP has rehabilitated our toilets. It has helped reduce crime rates in our community,” the Vice President said.