By Thaimu Thullah
Public concerns over the recent development of the agreement signed between the Bio government and a hitherto unknown Company from Dubai, ARISE IIP Ltd, granting the Pepel Railway line contract to them, has heightened, as more revelations are popping up about the competence of the company, as well as how the Mines Minister could be easily convinced to be willing to adhere to the terms of the agreement, which seems to be detrimental to the country’s economic and diplomatic interests.
Times SL Newspaper gathered that the bogus business model presented by the so called Dubai Company does not represent the true spirit for what they are yearning for, other than the same ‘mafia deal’ that have, in the past, turned Sierra Leone into the abyss of underdevelopment, characterized by suffering and retrogression. This can also be related to the same mafia deals that were signed in the past, from which Sierra Leone did not gain anything, other than underdevelopment. Has the government of President Julius Maada Bio done an introspect into the agreement between his government and Arise IIP from Dubai? Hell No!
Times SL is of the belief that the business model used by Arise IIP is not feasible, when one thinks of the quantum of money involved to take over the railway. The Government of President Bio should also bear in mind that there are predator companies, who will come in the guise of investors, only to milk the country’s resources, and would capitalize of the vulnerability of the country, namely; the high unemployment rate. These would suggest creating employment for the youths and promise heaven on earth for the population, knowing that the opposite is the case. Arise IIP is one among such companies. The ‘mafia railway contract’, which is currently before the cabinet, should not be allowed to go through.
If Cabinet is fooled into giving its blessings to this contract, it will be at the detriment of the government and people of this country, and when it boomerangs, President Bio will have to take the blame and the wrath of the people. His Excellency should not allow himself to be fooled by the Mines Minister, Timothy Kabbah, who seems to be playing the ‘Mr Clean Man Game’. Of concern is the business model produced by the company, which is alleged to be a front to dupe the nation.
In our next edition, we will bring out the deceptive clauses used to hoodwink the Bio government into believing that the project will be viable. Research about the operations of the same Arise in other countries will be published in our subsequent editions and we will however stand by our publications no matter what happen.
Whilst the World Bank views the development of the railway as a way for the growth of business and agriculture, it also expressed apprehension that the quantum of money needed to embark on such a venture is non-existent and the infrastructure not available. Thus, it is unthinkable that a company like ARISE IIP could offer to embark on the development of passenger rail service, as well as extending connectivity to Guinea. According to our research, there is no where that ARISE IIP is said to have embarked on rail construction and operation in Africa.
We must not lose sight of what happened in the days of African Minerals, and if we fail to go back to history, we will make the same stupid mistakes made during that period. The railway was left in a dilapidated state, but with the arrival of Kingho Mining, 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.
Kingho is a Chinese company, and we must not forget that China has been a very reliable partner to Sierra Leone. In the event that the Bio government decides to cancel or suppress the existing contract with the Chinese company, that action has the potential of destroying the long lasting relationship that has been in existence over the years with China? 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?