Welcoming guests at the ceremony, to rename and commission the 800 metric tones Marine Transport vessel the Interim Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sherbro Marines, retired NP boss, Vincent Kanu stated that, the new company (Shebro Marines) is to compliment the efforts of government, while “NP is known for its vision.”
He recalled that “seventeen years ago in this same area we performed a similar task of commissioning a vessel called the ‘Niti’,(but) today history is about to repeat itself, but this history has a little bit of difference.”
Mr Kanu said when in 1993 they decided to embark on sea transportation, “we saw the need to enhance the capacity of the oil industry in Sierra Leone by purchasing four vessels.”
These he said were all assets owned by NP before the rebel war and they formed about 55% of the core value of the company’s assets.
He however lamented that the ten year war not only eroded the company’s asset base, but actually wiped off all the assets owned by the oil industry.
The four vessels he said were completely vandalized beyond repairs, thus today, “we have nothing to show for all the efforts we had been building up for the marine wing of our company.”
Forever the optimist, Vincent Kanu noted “we are encouraged by this ceremony today because it demonstrates the tremendous efforts and resolve of NP to stay alive in this business.”
Acknowledging that there is stability in the country now, the retired Managing Director explained that the vessel is a standby for any crisis which might arise, and which might necessitate movement to Abidjan and back to satisfy our local needs.
Guests were further informed about strides made by the leading oil marketers towards the training of sea Captains and staff and noted that this venture would not have been successful without the enabling environment created by government.
Pointing out the recent death of two people while allegedly involved in stealing fuel from the refinery pipe, Mr Kanu called on government to improve the security around the oil refinery to avoid any future oil disaster.
Mike Carrol, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Petroleum Company Limited, delivering his remarks boasted, “we have made NP a showcase for privatization.”
He noted that, “in the private sector, NP will stand as a symbol of the Presidential legacy from President Kabbah,” as it was against many odds that he gave the approval for government majority shares in NP to be sold to the management and staff of the oil company.
This he disclosed was under the corporate name of Leone Oil Limited, adding that the acquisition of MT Cotton Tree an 800 metric ton vessel was an essential requirement for winning the contract to transport fuel to Sierra Rutile.
Chairman Carrol emphasized that, “it also marks the return of NP to the bunkering business,” revealing that the vessel’s storage capacity is equivalent to 120 tanker lorry loads of petrol or 102 tanker lorry loads of diesel.”
He informed the gathering that Sherbro Marines Limited a subsidiary of NP was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of NP just a few months ago with a fully paid up share capital of Le1 billion.
According to Chairman Carroll, Sherbro Marines “is formed to manage NP’s investment in maritime activities,” and “we are confident that with the competent board now in place, Sherbro Marines would soon become a highly profitable company with a fleet of seagoing vessels engaged in various maritime activities nothing exempted.”
On the company’s market share he boasted that, “it is common knowledge that NP is by far the leading petroleum oil marketing company in Sierra Leone,” stating that attention to customers’ service is the hallmark of their business, and “it explains why almost everybody buys from NP and we are proud of it.”
Guests at the ceremony were informed that the vessel cost a little over one million dollars landed in Freetown from Istanbul where it sailed from under the Captaincy of Augustine Sesay, assisted by four other Sierra Leoneans –Franklyn Johnson, Joseph Conteh, Saidu Koroma and Ahmed Dawo.
Laudable statements were also made by the Trade and Industry and Transport and Communication Ministers, while the Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa officially commissioned the MT Cotton Tree.
The ceremony was ably chaired by Engineer Andrew Keili, who was fondly introduced by the Managing Director of NP, Mohamed Babatunde Cole.