By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Once again the National Petroleum-Sierra Leone Limited (NP-SL Ltd), which First Lady Fatima Bio tried to make it look bad in the eyes of right-thinking Sierra Leoneans by rubbing a political slur on it, has come to the rescue to salvage the fuel shortage in the country while the seemingly pro-Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)’s All Petroleum Products (APP) is still missing in action. To put it mildly: APP seems to be in a state of inertia—or so it seems.
On Tuesday 26 April 2022, President Julius Maada Bio commissioned the All Petroleum Products (APP) terminal and tank farms at Kissy, east of the capital Freetown, with so much fanfare that one would have thought that he was performing the naming ceremony of a god from Mount Olympus. During the Commissioning, the Head of State disclosed that APP had invested over US$22 million to reconstruct a petroleum jetty and tank farms, which he said was in line with his SLPP government’s petroleum development policies.
And as if to give credence to his wife’s unsubstantiated allegation that the National Petroleum (NP)-Sierra Leone Limited is partially owned by members of the All People’s Congress (APC); President Bio reportedly noted that, “Years ago, I played a pivotal role to ensure that NP-SL Ltd becomes what it is today and I will do everything to give a chance to more players in order to liberalize the economy”. So in the seemingly misplaced thinking of the Commander-in-Chief and his SLPP government, the petroleum business in Sierra Leone should be drawn in supposedly Red and Green lines! So, that’s why the SLPP government was alleged to have given APP undue advantage to spite NP-SL Ltd—even to the extent of allegedly arm-twisting our House of Parliament to ratify the Agreement with the lightning speed with which Usain Bolt used to breast the tape at the 100 meters finishing line!
And as if to mock NP-SL Ltd the Managing Director of APP, Patrick O’Dwyer during the commissioning, reportedly showered religious-like accolades on President Bio for “demonstrating statesmanship by giving the needed support for the establishment of APP”. And as if for dramatic effect; Mr O’Dwyer reportedly added that: “APP is a child of destiny which was bound to happen”. Indeed, with the mindsets of senior functionaries of the SLPP against NP-SL Ltd; APP was bound to be a fait accompli on the very day NP-SL Ltd was willfully misconceived as an institution that’s partially-APC owned despite the factual fact that President Bio pretty well knows how it came into being during its transition phase when the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) was at the rudder of state!
And like a new kid on the block who has to breast-beat himself to show that he has arrived; the nation was told that the newly constructed 30-acre APP facility had “a capacity to store 65 million litres of petroleum products, the capacity to load 8 trucks at the same time, and a jetty capable of berthing 45-50 thousand of metric tons of cargo”. That’s finely fine on paper and scripted on a script which appeared to have been scripted at State House by scriptwriters who seemed to have bones to pick with NP-SL Ltd.
But since that pomp and pageantry of a commissioning, the All Petroleum Products now appears to be a sort of a “419” business as in the midst of the constant fuel shortages in the country; only NP-SL Ltd has been coming to the rescue. On 18 December 2022, the Management of NP-SL Ltd announced the arrival of a vessel containing over 12 thousand metric tons of petrol, aimed at reducing the current fuel shortage in the country.
According to that public notice, “Before the arrival of this vessel a first vessel arrived with over 18 thousand metric tons of diesel (AGO). These deliveries will ensure fuel availability till mid January. Other vessels with products imported by NP-SL Ltd are expected over the next two to three weeks”. This shows that NP-SL Ltd has never 419-ed Sierra Leoneans but has the people at heart!
That’s how a patriotic company, which is completely locally-owned, comes to the rescue of a dire national crisis. The National Petroleum-Sierra Leone Limited has always come to the rescue despite it being willfully painted with a partisan brush by those who believe that everything, in Sierra Leone, should be seen in perceived lines of Red and Green! Now is the time for APP to walk, or work, the talk it has talked and still talking!
It is on that note that I will end today’s One Dropian dropping with a quote from Hama Tuma that says: “Better the devil you know than the angel you don’t”. And I won’t ask you to scratch the surface because that quotation is clearly clear like a clear sky!