SAFECON with financing from the giant West African bankers ECOBANK on Saturday May 24th commissioned what arguably is the finest fuel filling station in the country.
Finance Manager Reginald A. Smith who was speaking on behalf of shareholders at the commissioning ceremony revealed that “over one billion Leones” was provided by ECOBANK to finance the project.
This was after Managing Director Amadu N’Doeka had disclosed that the company went through a “dark period” during the days of the rebel war.” With that phase over the company was now faced with “emerging business challenges which include renovation of (its) assets, rebuilding damaged ones and expanding the business”.
For this he intimated they struck a viable private sector partnership with ECOBANK who believed in their vision and thus funding which was in short supply was provided at an “affordable cost”.
ECOBANK on the other hand seized the opportunity to install their first Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) within the station, and Mr N’Doeka joked that they would start collecting rent now that the project has been completed.
The deputy Trade Minister Mabinty Daramy in her contribution praised the venture as “a big step in the right direction of accomplishing our desired goal of creating a vibrant business driven economy.”
Whilst noting that “the greatest challenge in front of us is to create a business friendly environment with the capacity to encourage investors” the deputy Minister pointed out that government is presently employing only eighty thousand people out of five million emphasizing that the private sector could do more in terms of employment. She maintained that “the only answer to slashing our unemployment numbers is a robust private sector.”
The Safecon Executive Chairman Chief Engr. S.I.C. Okoli recalled his days as Shell Sierra Leone’s MD in the 80’s, stating that it is out of “this passion that I have for this country and its people that made me develop the business vision which by some twist of fortune I was given the opportunity to package the purchase” of Shell’s interest in Shell Sierra Leone Limited between 1994 to 1995.
He disclosed though the civil war was raging, he was however able to get other serious minded investors to join him in securing the buyout from Shell.
Engr. S.I.C. Okoli maintained that “from the management structure to company’s policies and procedures they) have maintained over the years all that was good of Shell” adding that “ being a Shell man (he) will always be a Shell man” disclosing that he has spent over 43 years in the petroleum industry.
Noting that the “dark” days are now behind us Engr. Okoli said it is particularly gratifying to note that they have kept their faith in Sierra Leone and going by what the Deputy Trade Minister said “the future is very bright and everybody should now pick up what they have and invest in this economy a very growing strong economy.”
He stated that they “still have confidence in the economy of Sierra Leone inspite of the current worldwide fluctuations, price increases and disruptions.”
The planned improvement of our assets and our visible manifestation, it is just the beginning of our plan of continuous investment in this country we have just shown you what we want to look like in the future from now on you’ll begin to see Safecon waxing stronger and stronger in all the cities of this country.
The Safecon MD thanked the Executive Chairman Chief Engr. S.I.C. Okoli, the architects Tropical Environmental Design Associates (TEDA), the contractors International Construction Company (ICC), the local printers – Print Point and the brand consultants ‘War Room’ from Nigeria who have successfully helped to improve their Visual Manifestation by substantially improving their logo the ‘Eagle Head’.
The Chairman of the occasion James Sanpha Koroma who is also the secretary to the President spoke of how he helped canvass the shareholders while doing a consultancy for the then Shell Sierra Leone. He echoed the executive Chairman’s comments about hard times ahead saying that the prices of fuel products warranted an emergency cabinet meeting in a West African country he had been visiting.
The Station dealer Munjiru Jalloh promised that he will try to make the station the number one fuel filling station in the country.
The libation was poured by the Lumley head Derek Momoh while the Executive Chairman pumped the first gallon of fuel in his car.