An interim High Court injunction, issued by Justice Alusine Sesay, has stalled a 20 million dollar factory project at the former Oil Refinery site, Kissy in the east end of Freetown.
According to Engineer John Bosco Kaikai, Special Adviser to the Kissy Industry Company, owned by Jamal Shallop and Partners, the company had leased 12 acres of land out of the 44 acres of land at the former Oil Refinery Company, Kissy, from the former APC government for the construction of a huge and multi-purpose factory that will produce vegetable oil, bathing and laundering soap and margarine butter from local palm kernel and palm oil known locally as ‘masankay’.
Engineer John Bosco Kaikai informed journalists, at the Kissy site, that he has commenced construction of hostels, ware house and administrative building since March last year. He said that the production phase of the project should have commenced in March 2019 but work, he noted, has stalled due to an interim court injunction slammed on Jamal Shallop against the backdrop that one Bassim Mohamed has challenged Mr. Shallop’s ownership of the 12 acres of land at Kissy in the Freetown High Court.
This state of affairs has frustrated and affected the entire project, which would have helped in the economic recovery of the country’s battered economy, noted Mr. Bosco.
Mohamed Dagher, Managing Director for the Kissy Industry Project, disclosed that the factory is a five-in-one project that will have separate plants for the production of soap of all types, including toilet and medicinal soap and margarine butter from local and raw materials like palm kernel and palm oil.
He noted that the project is 20 million dollars and would be the first such factory within the sub region with the exception of La Cote D’Ivoire and Nigeria.
“We are targeting the local market first with the long term vision of infiltrating the sub regional market,” the Managing Director, Mr. Dagher, stated.
This huge investment is expected to boost farmers involved in the palm oil sector and also utilizes almost all the components of the palm kernel, including the shells. It is very much economic friendly and will create numerous jobs for engineers, accountants, marketers and administrators.
Rajesh Lad, Project Coordinator and future Production Manager, noted that the project is at its advanced stage; as they have constructed the refinery and also brought a lot of machinery on site. Besides, the construction work on the other major components of the project is also on course.
The project, Mr. Rajesh went on, will produce all the packaging containers at the factory and that they have a capacity to produce 4000 jars of 20 liters and 8000 jars of 10 liters of jars a day at the site.
The halting of the work, about one month ago, he noted, has lead to the loss of huge sums of money, as the company has to maintain the rented machines which are very difficult to get into Sierra Leone. The expatriates working in technical areas are also seriously affected.
Many residents within the Kissy Community, including the youths and traditional authorities, are calling on government to speedily intervene and bring these issue to rest, as they, the community and by extension the Government of Sierra Leone, stands to lose from this huge multi-million dollar mega project.
Farmers, who will also be beneficiaries of already having a ready-made market for their palm kernel and palm oil, are also worried about the delay in the commencement of the production phase of the project due to the court interim injunction.
Youths and women interviewed, at the site, expressed their frustration over the delay in the commencement of the project, which they have termed as their immediate source of livelihood since the Oil Refinery closed some decades ago.
They noted that a very good number of the skilled and unskilled labour, that had taken part in the construction phase of the project, were inhabitants of the Kissy community and that the temporal closure has added to the already alarming poverty and unemployment rate facing their community.
They are calling on Government to immediately intervene and allow the project to move on, as they noted that it has the propensity to boom the economy through foreign exchange, boost farmers and also create jobs for both skilled and unskilled workers in the engineering, finance and other administrative cadres.