Parliamentary debate was yesterday delayed for about 45mins before MPs voted after an election for the authorization of the government to retake the oil refinery at Kissy Dockyard, east of the capital.
It was resolved that the land and premises at the oil refinery, which were previously known as West African Refinery Company International and later known as Majestic Oil Refinery Marketing Limited consisting of about 43.9008 acres and the appurtenances thereto, be acquired by government for the services of the state.
Presenting the Government’s motion to MPs the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abdul Serry Kamal, explained that government was repossessing the oil refinery as the said property was sold to a Nigerian company.
The company is currently being operated by a Sierra Leonean company named Majestic oil marketing company.
Mr kamal explained that for some very good reasons the refinery was badly managed for which government saw the need to reacquire it and to make adequate compensation to the present owners.
He further disclosed that there were naval tanks at the refinery which would be used to store oil in the event that the present supply ran out.
“For now we receive our supply from Ivory Coast and I do not think it is safe to be dependent on another country for the supply of petroleum products as our economy is currently based on oil”, he stated.
But Hon Phillip Tondeneh of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party disagreed with the Attorney General for government’s acquisition of the refinery on the grounds that government should first look at their economic state and the present state of the oil refinery.
He made mention that the present owners of the refinery were Sierra Leoneans for which they should be protected.
Hon Tondeneh questioned whether government had the capacity and capital investment to take over the oil refinery and also whether they knew the quantum of investment of the present owners before compensation.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by Hon Elizabeth Lavalie of SLPP who further questioned government’s ability to do business.
Hon Legacy K. Sankoh of the PMDC questioned whether the land was on pre-hold or lease and therefore said he did not want to be associated with decisions that would affect the people.
He told Awoko the reason for abstaining, “We do not want to be seen here taking decisions just for the sake of decision making. We are the people’s representatives and we are to be seen passing legislations for the good of our people. What we disagreed with the motion was we were not convinced whether the land in question was on a pre- hold on lease to the present owners of the refinery.”
With different views mainly from the minority parties in parliament, the speaker of parliament Justice Nathaniel Abel Stronge put the motion on votes. Fifty parliamentarians from the majority APC voted in favour whilst 23 from the SLPP voted against and the PMDC who were six in attendance abstained. By Ishmael Bayoh