Over 1,450 Sierra Leoneans working for Kingho Mining Company will reportedly lose their jobs if a rail and port agreement between the company and the government does not end successfully.    

According to reports, Kingho has spent over US$200 million to develop deplorable rails and ports left behind by Shandong Company, and over 1,450 Sierra Leoneans currently working at the port at Pepel and the rail linking Pepel and Ferengbeya in the Tonkolili District would have to be redundant if negotiations with the government do not end well.

According to reports, The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and a few others are pushing hard for the government to accept a third party on the rail and port operations respectively, which may have the tendency to reduce the employment rate of the company to 250 workers, and this agreement, will possible change the existing positive relationship between Sierra Leone and China.

It is also anticipated that, Kingho Company is planning to double the above figure of workers by 2024 and will spend a further $57 million on expansion, which has left some competitors in the mining sector having a resolution over the acceptance of the company which has not being to the rail and port facilities.

Proceeding on the matter, Mohamed Pa-Momo Fofana, a Senior Lawyer, on behalf of his client, Kingho Mining Company on 19th January, 2023 wrote a letter to the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

The letter reads as follows:

 “With reference to the above subject, I write as the Solicitor for Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited of No. 20 (sic 97) Signal Hill, Wilberforce, Freetown. My Client is in shock and disbelief to receive your letter dated 10th January, 2023 addressed to its Executive Officer, giving my Client six months’ Notice to terminate the Railway and Port Lease Agreement duly executed between the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone (hereinafter called “the Government” or “the Lessor”) and my Client dated 8th January, 2021 as well as ratified by the House of Parliament of Sierra Leone on Tuesday, the 11th day of May, 2021 accordingly.

Whilst not opposed to the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone engaging “another Railway and Port Operator to independently operate the Railway and Port (forming the subject matter of the above Lease Agreement) after the first two years of the term (of the Lease, i.e. the transition period,’ subject to the conditions precedent outlined in Section 2.03 of the said Lease Agreement quoted by you in your letter, my Client considers the termination of the above Lease Agreement as a grave and fundamental breach of Government (as the Lessor)’s covenants therein, and that the same may have been done in urgent error. In this regard, my specific instructions are as follows:

That my Client acknowledges Government’s exclusive right in the above Lease to “engage another Railway and Port Operator to independently operate the Railway and Port after the first two years of the term herein granted. Subject to a six months’ notice to the Lessee after the first two years (transition period)”, pursuant inter alia to Section 2.03 of the Lease Agreement. My Client is, however, yet to be informed by you about who or what entity the said independent Railway and Port Operator is in the true spirit and intendment of the Lease Agreement, considering in particular the ‘huge verifiable equity investments’ which my Client has already expended and incurred on the Railway and Port facilities in issue.”

He furthered that his Client on its part informs him that it has invested more than US $200,000,000 (Two Hundred Million US Dollars) in the Railway and Port restoration and operational costs, which will assist Government understand why it should not terminate the existing Lease Agreement without any defaulting event on his Client’s part. That Client also confirmed  that it is entitled to full compensation by Government for breaches of the Agreement coupled with damages incurred as a result of Government’s decision to terminate the Lease Agreement and grant access to the Railway and Port facilities to a Third Party and  such damages will include but are not limited to: lost profits, costs associated with relocating the operations elsewhere, other special damages and attendant emotional disorder created in the shock of trying to come to terms with Government’s resolve to terminate the Lease.

Speaking on the request made by his client, Kingho Mining Company as consequence of the the current issue at hand, he said that, his Client affirms and cordially requests the following: That in the interim Government stops all/or restrains all Third Parties, including but not limited to Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms Ltd . from accessing the Railway and Port facilities that are the subject matter only existing Lease Agreement and which are currently under the exclusive management and control of my client until both Parties meet to resolve the issues in dispute. Failing which, it will amount to a flagrant violation of the tams of the Agreement and may cause his Client significant financial lose. That Government respectfully refrains from submitting the new Lease Agreement with Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms Ltd. aforesaid to the House of Parliament of Sierra Leone for approval, as such further action would constitute a continuation of the current breaches of the key terms outlined in the existing Lease Agreement with his Client. And that his Client respectfully also requests that Government desists from further breaches of the lease Agreement with my Client and revokes the new unlawful Lease Agreement with Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms Limited or with any other Third Party.

He also pointed out that, his Client is of the view that there is still a means for the government to meet with the required plans.

‘’It is also imperative that Government continues the initial positive discussions it had started with my Client on the Railway and Port Expansion Proposal submitted to it by my Client in July 2022, which has an investment plan of US S57,000,000/- (Fifty-Seven Million Dollars) and is intended to increase the capacity of the Railway and Port and enable multi-user service of same within two years. The said Expansion initiative will benefit not only my Client but will serve the people of Sierra Leone and investors in the mining and other sectors, and increase Government’s revenue.

Whilst waiting to hear from you in the spirit of a sustainable positive working relationship, my Client however hereby puts Messrs. Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms Limited on notice of the contents of this letter in order to keep them informed about the lien, equity investments and possible encumbrances they may encounter in pursuing their current attempt to take over the existing Lease Agreement aforesaid without any reference to or discussions with my Client.’’

He noted that, the letter is accordingly copied for the government’s attention.