From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
VP Berewa must save Tecsbaco in Sierra Leone
By Sayoh Kamara
Dec 15, 2005, 16:32

The name of the honourable Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa has started showing up in a diabolical attempt by certain criminal elements posing as ‘foreign investors’ and in collaboration with officials at the Ministry of Mines to deny Tecsbaco, a laudable local investment venture its exclusive right of use of the railway track between Pepel and Marampa as outlined in the authentic Mines Lease document mines issued to the company early this year.

Tecsbaco International Company had since owned the exclusive right to mine and sell the Iron Ore deposit at Pepel, but is currently being frustrated in its attempt to use the 52 miles stretch of railway route for its required purpose. In the lease agreement issued to Tecsbaco on 21st February 2005 it has in the lease plan (plan 2 page 8) the stretch of rail road for use to transport the Iron Ore deposits to and from the Pepel Port.

Tecsbaco, in its bid to develop this ecnomically viable aspect to its investment has since repaired the loading facility at the port to working order.

But this determined move does not seem to please a certain so-called foreign company and have therefore collaborated with officials at the Ministry of Mines, which to a great extent includes the Minister, Alhaji Swarray Deen, to stop Tecsbaco from its exclusive use of the railway facility.

As it were, Bauxite and Iron Ore are two compounds that are not fuseable as each has the potential of contaminating the other. It is because of this that Tecsbaco, with genuine business in mind, had invested additionally to redo the loading facility at the Port, which these so-called companies are shying away from emulatingand instead wants to jointly use the facility together when they know fully well that the two compounds do not go together.

Tecsbaco, in its further move to demonstrate its genuine long term investment in the country, had provided security to protect thieves from removing the rail tracks, sleepers and clips for sale as scrap. It is on record for having provided such security for a long time now and has even made arrests of some of these criminals and the case is with the Port Loko police.

There are indications even that this company with which certain Ministry of Mines officials have so collaborated is paying people off front to vandalize the rail tracks and make it appear as if it is Tecsbaco that is doing the nefarious act.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Tecsbaco, Mr. Abdul Rahaman Bah, the pillaging and vandalisation of the rail tracks and the facility at the Port will cost the company over US$500million. He stated that a particular crusher at the Port which had been vandalized by scrap metal thieves cost his company US$500,000 to replace.

"How can my company be seen in such a light as a thieving company and that we are selling the rail tracks as scrap metal?" Mr. Bah questioned.

However, what is now becoming a concern is the involvement of the name of Mr. Solomon Berewa in this whole episode.

Sierra Leone is looking out for foreign genuine investors with an appreciable percentage of Sierra Leonean involvement. Tecsbaco satisfies that vital condition which ensures that some appreciable percentage of the proceeds of the investment is left in the hands of indigenes to improve their lot rather than those investors whose sole objective is to launder funds away from the country to the outside.

Although Mr. Berewa has not made any comments so far or perhaps any direct move into the issue, the mere mention of his name in this clear machination is an attempt to intimidate Tecsbaco.

Whatever it is, Tecsbaco is a responsible company and has so far satisfactorily demonstrated that.

According to the Tecsbaco CEO, the company is on the verge of hiring a Marine Resource company to dredge the berthing area of the Pepel Port, to ensure that its ships safely and conviniently berth at the Port. "This is going to cost us more than US$500, 000," he said.

Mr. Bah explains that the sediments at the wharf have become hardened over the past 18 years and has made it difficult for ships to berth at the Port. He says the company has a lot of development plans for the area which includes the reconstruction and retracking of the old railway line.

"But our efforts are being undermined by our detractors who have in a way succeeded in influencing Ministry of Mines officials to frustrate our genuine efforts," Mr. Bah complained.

If vice president Berewa is getting involved therefore it should be on the basis of transparency.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.