Mafia Railway Deal…

Mines Minister undermines Bio’s Govt

By Thaimu Thullah

Mines Minister, Timothy Kabbah, has been in the news again, and this time, it is for all the wrong reasons, allegedly to protect a ‘mafia railway contract’, whose agreement is before the cabinet. Sierra Leoneans would love to see a situation that will be used to benefit the entire masses and not something that has the tendency of destroying the bilateral relationship that has been in existence between the People’s Republic of China and Sierra Leone. That ‘ mafia railway agreement ‘ before cabinet will be a worse mistake to be made by the Bio Government, if allowed to go through.

How can a company that is unable to make things happen for the masses, just wake up one day with a bogus business proposal, promising to invest in a railway and would be pouring over four hundred million United States dollars? Is the Bio Government allergic to scammers and 419ers that they can fall for such bait, whose aim is to milk the country’s resources? This brings me to the issue at hand between the government of Sierra Leone and Kingho Mining Company. King Mining Company is said to have invested over two hundred million dollars in bringing the railway to life. The Chinese company is said to have also put part of its expansion agenda to spend an additional 57 million dollars for the expansion project of the railway, which will be used for commercial purposes. A ‘mafia company’ has come up to fool the Bio government by hoodwinking them that they are ready to invest over four hundred million dollars on the railway leading to the Pepel port. Does the business model used by Arise IIP speak to its reality? This will be a million dollar question to be answered by the mines minister, who, before this time, had seen Kingho as the best mining company.

Since both African Minerals and London Mining left the shores of Sierra Leone, the railway had been left in a dilapidated state, but when Kingho Mining came along, they spent huge amount of money to revive it, replacing some of the tracks, and providing security in areas where the railway runs through communities, so as to avert accidents. Kingho also brought in new locomotives to add to the current ones to ensure sustainability and reliability of the service. It was Kingho that intimated that they would be providing rail services to passengers living along their areas of operations, an intention to rejuvenate passenger rail service in that part of the country.  Now that there has been huge progress on that front, another virtually unknown company has surfaced to create confusion and fool the government to believe that they could introduce passenger rail service, when in actual fact they had no dealings with the rejuvenation of the service in the first place. Like they say in krio: “Baboon nor go woke then Monkey eat”.

Another point to ponder is that both Sierra Leone and China have had very strong relationship that had spanned over 50 years, and the Chinese have, in various ways, contributed to the country’s developmental strides. China had been a key ally in the construction, medical and agricultural development of Sierra Leone, and it is only wise that government ensures that no company interferes with that relationship. In the academic sector, China had offered scholarship to Sierra Leoneans that are currently studying medicine in that country, and has even helped the country through grants and other forms of help to lift it from a state of dependency, with Chinese experts now working in agriculture and other sectors. Thus, any action that might affect their interest and nationals’ business interest has the potential to affect the good relationship between the two countries. Recently, President Bio opened a Diplomatic Academy built by China for the training of career Diplomats. Where were those that are now surfacing to challenge the Chinese enterprise that is making progress in the export of ore and rail transportation of same along a well developed railway track?

President Bio should be careful of fake investors, who are merely here to milk the country of its resources and then leave.  

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