Nigerian Firm Goes To Court Over Sierra Leonean Deal

A highly criticised deal between the Sierra Leone government and a Nigerian company specialising in vehicle licensing, Courteville Investment, has stalled, with the latter suing for money it claims it is owed.

Last year, public transportation was temporarily disrupted in Sieraa Leonean capital Freetown after protest by staff of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA), who were angered by the decision to contract the Lagos based company to handle vehicle and drivers licensing in Sierra Leone.
The then management of SLRTA at the time cited mordernisation of its systems.

A new team of administration, however, recently terminated the contract, citing lack of performance on the part of the Nigerian contractor. Courteville is demanding over $700, 000 it claims it is owed as per the agreement. The government said the company failed to perform satisfactorily.

The legal suit has reignited public anger over an issue that vexed Sierra Leonean motorists leading to confrontations with the authorities.

Under the controversial agreement, Courteville Investment was to provide an automated vehicle and drivers` licences. Opponents expressed concern of the security implications of an agreement that would see data collected stored in the company`s servers somewhere in Nigeria.

Courteville operates from Nigeria`s commercial capital, Lagos, and some Sierra Leoneans, motorists in particular, said their personal information could be misused.

Counting losses

After an apparent change of plan, SLRTA now accused Courteville Investment of not abiding by its contract agreement causing “great embarrassment, inconvenience, and loss of confidence,” by its [SLRTA] customers.

Sources at the SLRTA revealed that the government has lost over $7 million as a result of the contract reached last year, amounting to over $30M, which was allegedly “imposed” on a reluctant management at the time by some government ministers.

There have been calls for President Ernest bail Koroma to act against one of his ministers, who has been linked to the deal.

SLRTA has meanwhile reverted to its old system of handling vehicle and drivers` licenses registration.

Culled: Africa Review

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