By Alusine Sesay
While claims have been making the rounds that there was an apparent conflict of interest in the just confirmed agreement for Leone Metal Group to manage the Pepel Rail and Port for twenty years, in that, ITEGEMS, a geological consultancy firm,has been providing consultancy services for the company, the management of the company has made it abundantly clear that ITEGEMS has never provided them any consultancy services.
“INTEGEMS has never provided any consultancy services or undertaken any paid or commercial services to Leone Rock Metal Group or its affiliated companies,Kingho Mining Company Ltd and Kingho Railway and Port Company Ltd,” the company states.
Aside from the company’s rebuttal of the allegation, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Julius Mattai also refuted the claim in a press conference held at Radisson Blu on October 27th in Freetown.
“I will not deny that I own INTEGEMS, but the management of the firm is quite different from the ownership. I established the firm while I was in the UK and created jobs for brilliant Sierra Leoneans who are managing the company. I have no hands in the management, although I enjoy the fruit of the company. I want to make it abundantly clear that INTEGEMS has never provided consultancy services for Leone Rock Metal Group,” he stated.
The minister said Leone Rock presented a better proposal than ARISE, and that he as a minister and also a career geologist, cannot sit by and allow the wrong thing to happen to the country.
“The agreement with Leone Rock is in the best interest of the country and I have no regret for that. We did not sit overnight and decided on giving the contract to Leone Rock. As a minister, I visited Gabon, where ARISE is doing massive investment and also visited Kingho in China. I saw the deference and the decision was informed by thorough evaluation of both companies,” he said.
With a lot of controversies around the agreement for the Management of the Pepel Rail and Port, government on Friday, convened a press conference to clear the air about several doubts around the awarding of the contract to Leone Rock Metal Group.
While Leone Rock had been managing the rail and port over the years, a new player, ARISE IIP vested interest in the deal by entering into an agreement with the government, but the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohamed Lamin Tarawally, told pressmen that ARISE failed to meet some of the provisions of the said agreement hence lost it.
”The satisfaction day of the terms and conditions was July 9th of July 2023, but up to this day there was no communications from Arise IIP to the Government of Sierra Leone, implying that they Arise IIP were not ready for business,” he said.
Further allaying the fears of Sierra Leoneans who are concerned about breach of contract – Government signing two agreements for the use of the same facility by two different companies, the Justice Minister said it was Arise IIP that failed to fulfil its own part of the agreement, “therefore there was no agreement, and the new agreement with Kingho is legitimate,” he said.