Purchase of Petroleum Products in Limbo
What was a simple sale of goods transaction between Jaffa Zeighr (SKM) and Leon Oil, wherein Jaffa paid for a consignment of fuel to be supplied to him, and had received receipts of the said transaction, leaving him only to collect the product, but due to the Corona crisis and the government restrictions on inter district travel, which prevented many people, including business people from travelling up country without permit from the government. This then affected the collection of the said fuel supply from the terminal of Leon Oil. But by the time Jaffa finally got permission from the government to send his supply of fuel to his various fuel stations across the country, the price of fuel was then increased. Arriving at the terminal to collect his supply that had already been paid for, the Leon Oil refused to give him his supply and demanded that he adds the difference between the newly increased price and the old price.
Since this impasse between the oil marketing company and the dealer, no action has been taken, even when the regulatory body of the petroleum industry directed that the OMC supply the dealer on the price paid for and on the basis of the receipt already issued to him. Leon Oil had deliberately refused to adhere to the regulator’s directive.
Amidst all this wrangling, and no sight of progress in sight, Jaffa then took the matter to the High Court presided over by a noble Judge, Justice Samuel Taylor, who after several sittings, has been unable to deliver judgment on the matter, a situation that many see as an interference in the Judiciary, as there are indication that orders from above is at play here. Amidst this stalemate, Jaffa continues to suffer, whilst Leon Oil is conveniently carrying on its business unhindered.
As if this was not enough, the same situation was repeated during this recent fuel price increase from Le12,000 to Le15,000. Some fuel dealers doing business with Leon Oil also paid for fuel at the operating price of Le12,000, and were given receipts, but within the period of trying to collect their fuel supply, the price of the product was again increased to Le15,000. Leon Oil then refused to give the already purchased fuel supply to those dealers, but again directed that the dealers pay the difference between the old price and the newly increased price, which is a clear breach of the Sale of Goods Act.
This situation saw these dealers not having fuel to sell to the nation, thereby causing huge shortage of fuel, even though there was enough fuel at the terminal. It is such situation that had been responsible for the artificial shortage of fuel in the country, and may not be unconnected with the recent closure of fuel stations by the dealers across the country. On the other hand, NP-SL supplied all its dealers, including those who had bought at the old price and had been given receipts to collect same. It is therefore not surprising that NP-SL filling stations across the country were selling fuel, whilst others had none.
The question on the lips of many Sierra Leoneans is when will Jaffa hget Justice, as he is being seen as an example of an ordinary fuel dealer that has invested in the country and has been treated badly by an OMC, yet his attempts at getting justice has still not materialised, even in a Court of Law. The Presiding Judge, Justice Samuel Taylor, is known to be one of the country’s best judges and has been doing extremely well in the discharge of his duty, but the delay in delivering judgment on this issue is something to think about. Therefore, this medium is expecting to see a fair judgment on this matter.