In a recent session, the Parliament of Sierra Leone formally ratified the agreement between Chinese company Kingho Ports and Rail Company Ltd and the Government of Sierra Leone on the Pepel Port and Rail project.

This development follows the expiration of the previous lease agreement with Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited. A new deal has been approved with another company, ARISE IIP.

The minority leader, Hon. Abdul Kargbo, has called for an investigation into the dealings between the Government of Sierra Leone and ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms Limited (AriseIIP), expressing concerns about its potential to embarrass the country.

In January 2021, the government signed a two-year lease agreement with Kingho Railway and Port Company Limited for the management and rehabilitation of the railway and port between Tonkolili and Pepel. Following the expiration of this agreement in January 2023, the government received an attractive offer from ARISE Integrated Industrial Platforms Limited. This company pledged significant investments in facility development and ensuring fair competition among iron ore mining companies.

The Cabinet, led by the President, approved the deal with ARISE in January 2023, emphasizing the potential benefits for the country. However, just last month, the Government of Sierra Leone mutually canceled the Port and Rail Agreement with ARISE IIP, paving the way for Kingho’s return to the project.