Sierra Leone fuel crisis – stop the blame game and act now

Amin Kef: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 November 2019:

It is really unfortunate that there are certain individuals, who out of ignorance have been unfairly and unduly blaming National Petroleum Sierra Leone (NP-SL), for the current fuel shortage in the country.

As a matter of fact, NP-SL, like other oil marketing companies in the country, is going through various challenges which are militating against its smooth operations.

One of the greatest challenges is that which has to do with accessing foreign currency, specifically the Dollar which it uses to purchase petroleum products.

The fuel companies convert the Leones they derive from sales to dollar, in order to be in a position to import petroleum products. But of late with the depreciation of the Leone to the dollar, it is no mean feat to do so.

It was against such a backdrop that in the recent past when summoned by a Parliamentary Committee, the Management of NP laid bare the huge debt, running into millions of Leones which the Government of Sierra Leone owes the company, and pleaded for the intervention of Parliamentarians to help remedy the impasse.

When this medium did a research to find out whether indeed fuel is available but is being hoarded as alleged, it discovered that the oil marketing companies are really finding it extremely difficult to keep on surviving amidst the high exchange rate of the dollar to the Leone; and what we are now seeing is a culmination of factors that have loomed for too long, and if not addressed, will further create future problems.

For many days now it has only been NP Sierra Leone that has been selling fuel to the public. However, it was learnt that other companies, including Total are not hoarding fuel but the fact of the matter is that fuel is not available and they are finding it very difficult to import at the moment.

It will only be prudent if Government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry act very smartly by addressing some of the constraints these companies are going through, particularly with that which has to do with accessing foreign currency with ease and at affordable price.

There has always been the misconception held by certain people that the National Petroleum Sierra Leone is owned by the Government of Sierra Leone. However, it will interest many to know that the company is privately owned by Sierra Leoneans who years back, established the company out of their end of service benefits and worked assiduously for it to become a towering business entity that is renowned for marketing quality petroleum products.

The company, although it keeps reminding the Government of its outstanding debt, is in no way disillusioned to discontinue serving members of the public diligently as it is a 100% indigenous company.

It  must be reiterated that for the past few days vehicle owners as well as users of fuel generators were greeted by queues for fuel at the various fuel stations; and this has caused various degrees of inconvenience among residents in the country.

To make matters worse there was a statement issued by the regulatory body of petroleum products, the Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA) that there is no shortage of fuel.

Currently, NP-SL has its pumps open and is selling to members of the public. As an indigenous company, NP-SL is desirous of serving the nation.

Some economic analysts say that the statement issued by Total in respect of losses and request for the provision of foreign exchange to enable them import petroleum product, is in place, although the country’s indigenous petroleum supplier, the National Petroleum Sierra Leone Limited, has huge debt owed them by Government than that complained of by TOTAL, whose parent body is not in the country.

The oil marketing companies, from our findings, are not bent on undermining the Government; they are not anti- government; they have always maintained an apolitical stance, only focusing on their business ventures.

It will therefore be a great disservice to the fuel companies, if some people are blaming them whenever shortages do occur.

9 Comments

  1. There is a Krio proverb that says- Den ask whoda Worwor den Barbou burse cry. Which translation means someone asked a simple question – Who is Ugly? and the Baboon cried bitterly with the assumption that they are trying to insult him. My point is, I don’t see anywhere in the article or comment that anyone accused the corrupt and destructive APC of sabotaging the government behind the scenes but that question and suspicion is raised by a guilty APC propagandist.

    I personally believe that the APC party lifetime leader is the biggest shareholder of NP and the late Vincent Kanu who was his relative was his mask. Most of the government fuel subsidies used to end up in the pockets of the lifetime chairman and his cabals through the smuggling of cheap fuel in Sierra Leone by road to the neighboring countries for more profits. That was the main reason why the past APC government was reluctant to implement the IMF condition of lifting fuel subsidies and now they are asking the government for that profit since government is continuity.

    The dollar sabotage started last December when the SLPP government reduced the price of fuels due to the fall in the price of crude oil in the world market, and since that time, the powerful cartel started hoarding and smuggling dollars just to undermine the government efforts to further reduce the price at the pump to reflect the world market price.

    Finally since they have asked their corrupt Godfather to declare his assets, they are hoping that this artificial shortage will trigger civil unrest that will eventually overthrow this government by the end of the year, which will finally stop the Commission Of Inquiry on its tracks.

  2. Fuel Crisis has been responsible for civil strife in many countries around the world. The Government should take this seriously and try to remedy the problem. As a Government, casting aspersions against a business entity without proof is an indictment against your governance.

    With regards the availability of foreign exchange, granted we are not exporting much to bring in the needed foreign exchange. However, even the little that trickles in is not controlled by the government. West Africa, unlike many countries in East Africa is known to have a parallel market that deals in foreign exchange which is not regulated by the government. That is bad economic policy which has a lot of concomitant effects, including aiding money laundering, terrorism and smuggling.

    I would suggest that the government regulates all foreign exchange transactions in the country. They can ask the black-market traders to open Bureaus, register their Bureaus and give them – say a year tax free on their business to help in their transition from an irregular business to a regulated business, that abides by the government regulation and accounting for the foreign exchange that comes in and leaves the country. This would anger some at the beginning but it will cushion the flow in and out of the country of the little foreign exchange.

    December is coming. Holiday makers would bring in millions of foreign exchange. But 90% of this would be exchanged on the black market and subsequently smuggled out. Because the Black Market pays a little bit more than the Registered Bureaus. The Black Market traders are not paying Taxes or office rental costs. This business has to be handled. I have never seen a trader on the streets of Dar es Salaam, Nairobi or Kigali trading in Foreign exchange. But Freetown, Conakry and Monrovia it is like there are no governments in these countries.

    The last thing this government needs is civil strife. To avoid that, they have to mitigate a looming crisis situation like fuel shortage.

  3. Joe koroma – Time for your recommended dosage of a series of soothing, assuaging nursery rhymes (lmao). Hickory, dickory dock, Joe the mouse ran up the clock…Hickory Dickory dock, the SLPP is now completely stuck; and the NGC has totally run out of luck. (lol) Hickory dickory dock, they talk, and talk, but cannot walk the talk.

    Children, tell Joe to play somewhere else with his toys, and please do me a favor – Boo the NGC loser off the stage. Booooooooooo!! (lol) Shout out to the APC members of Parliament – Great Sayedna representing y’all to the fullest. Keep your heads up! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  4. The holidays are approaching, and now there is a fuel crisis. This is very bad. Government needs to resolve this quickly. This is very bad.

  5. This is what happens when you sell your one and only OIL REFINERY through BOGUS DEALS OF SELF INTEREST. SAD. SELF INTEREST FIRST and COUNTRY LAST. Again SAD. Each time there is FUEL CRISIS, I become mad with former President Koroma. I don’t blame him for the CRISIS but blame him for not investigating the BOGUS SALE OF our OIL REFINERY by some UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUALS and put the CULPRITS behind BARS forever. These so called UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUALS/POLITICIANS involved in the sale are ROAMING free and enjoying their LOOT whilst the population suffer because of their greed. Can you imagine?

    A COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO THE SALE OF OUR OIL REFINERY will be setup in the future. That I can tell everyone This issue will not go away in JESUS’ NAME. AMEN AND AMEN.

  6. This article leaves me scratching my head. The writer states that the Government of Sierra Leone owes NP (National Petroleum) millions of Leones. At the current exchange rate, a million Leones exchanges for $103. This means that the millions of Leones that the writer is referring to is in fact an insignificant amount of money for a Government to owe a company. Could this really be the reason for the fuel shortage?

    The writer goes on to maintain that:

    “The oil marketing companies, from our findings, are not bent on undermining the Government; they are not anti- government; they have always maintained an apolitical stance, only focusing on their business ventures.”

    What research did the writer conduct on the oil marketing companies to come to the above conclusion? Hmmmmm.

    • And many thanks for your observation! I will also ask the NP why they did not keep asking the Govt. to pay them what it owes or give the Govt. a deadline for the Payments. We have not heard anything about this on the Radio or over Social Media. Why do they have to wait until this point where they are saying they have no fuel?

  7. I thank you sincerely monsieur for such a direct, candid, thoughtful article. Indeed, the facts of the matter at hand have been made as crystal clear and as informative as could possibly be. In my opinion, the biggest contributors to the challenges our nation is facing today, are all rooted in gross incompetence and a total lack of a good sense of judgement by the SLPP government now in power. They are a clueless, irresponsible bunch of village BOOK CRAMMING, self conceited men, who cannot be reasoned with, advised or bargained with.

    Try drilling some common sense into their empty brick heads, and you will end up failing a thousand times over.(lol) Wild Goose Chasers! Loose cannons: arrogant, tribalistic, totally unreliable and unpredictable, that’s what and who they are. Lawless men, countless in their numbers! (lol) Are they deliberately undermining the efforts of NP and other fuel companies, by withholding foreign currencies, just to make it look like its APC that is responsible for sabotaging the efforts of their Government behind the scenes? Absolutely!

    These are shady, unremorseful people! Inflation keeps on rapidly rising, the Leone has become like a piece of trash, all because of an incompetent Finance Minister who sits around idle trying to figure out how to figure out, what he has not been able to figure out since they came to power.(lmao) A hell of a lot figuring out he has been doing lately, yet achieving nothing tangible and sustainable. This acute fuel shortage is nothing but a sign of poor governance, indiscipline attitudes of indifference and mismanagement…Its all in your hands now. Caterpillars dressed in green -Deal with it! Rising Sun Will Rise Again!

    • Saidu Conteh, Insulting your betters on a public forum is both sacrilegious and blasphemous. If that is the only way that you can temper your frustrations tells me that you are a prime candidate for immediate psychiatric consultation. APC was in power for eleven years, eleven failing years that only highlighted theft, violence and irresponsible governance. Where were you when that dastardly criminal outfit that masqueraded as a political party ruled with impunity? Would I be correct to suggest that you were a member of Ernest Koroma’s cabinet?

      Look, I have stated elsewhere that as a member of the NGC party, I will choose SLPP over APC anytime. Thus, the feckless and vain slogan that the “Rising Sun Will Rise Again” will forever remain a pipe dream of inauspicious and irrelevant rabble rousers like Saidu Conteh. Now, let the good times continue to roll.

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