VP Howard-Taylor and others celebrate the groundbreaking of the Conex Petroleum Storage Terminal.
Cherif M. Abdallah, chairman, and chief executive officer of a local petroleum company, Conex Petroleum Group Incorporated, on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, broke ground to construct phase II of a storage terminal, located in the courtyard of the Bong Mines Pier at the Freeport of Monrovia.
The project, according to Mr. Abdallah, when completed, will add value, ensuring that the strategic reserve and savings on the flight of foreign exchange from the country, while creating additional revenue through royalties to the Liberian Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC), taxes to the government and community development projects.
Accordingly, it will also ensure petroleum product sufficiency and job creation, "but will take approximately 24 months from commencement of construction."
"Here we are today with a modern petroleum storage terminal built strictly on the American Petroleum Institute (API) standard, to include the construction of the Oil Processing Facility," Abdallah said.
He believes that the future of the nation depends on a vibrant Liberian-owned private sector.
Mr. Abdallah therefore called on other well-meaning Liberians "to join us in building small, medium and large-scale businesses that will be the means by which we all forge ahead into the successful future of our country."
He informed Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor that political independence without economic independence does not meet the need of the citizens at all. Therefore, Conex has decided to work collaboratively with the Coalition for Democratic Change-led government to bring economic independence to Liberians.
Mr. Abdallah made these remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony to commence the construction of its refinery phase II project.
Abdallah said Conex's vision is in line with President Weah's call on all Liberians not to become spectators in their own country, but to create businesses, and be a part of their country's economy.
As a Liberian-owned petroleum company, Conex focuses on job creation for the Liberians, energy production, international partnerships, which will add value to the economy, and increase Domestic Production that supports the balance of trade and, in turn, strengthens currency.
"Madam Vice President, I would like to thank you for creating the business climate necessary for the Liberian private sector to participate in your government's national development agenda," Abdallah said.
According to him, when government support is given to Conex, it will create international partnerships and joint ventures with multi-national corporations and in the sub region.
"The end result is a win-win situation for the government and people of Liberia," Mr. Abdallah added.
He recalled that when Conex initially took over the property at the Bong Mines Pier from the government, there was oil from a spill that covered approximately five acres of land with two dilapidated storage tanks, of which only one was rehabilitated.
He expressed gratitude to LPRC and Ministry of Commerce and Industry, National Port Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Investment Commission, for their support to the project.
He also recognized his international partners, starting with Africa Finance Corporation, GEMCORP Capital, Montserrado Investments, Lutech Engineering, V-Fuels, and Saga Global Partners.
Vice President Taylor, who proxied for President Weah, expressed gratitude for the level of work the Conex Group has done so far.
She added, "we want to thank the banking sector, our partners who have been part of this process; and the government for providing an enabling environment in the country's business sector.
Madam Taylor, therefore, encouraged Conex to lead by example that others will follow, adding, "we know this is just the first of many that all of us will wake up from our slumber, but this country is ours."
The ceremony was attended by officials and representatives from LPRC, GEMCORP, NIC, LBDI, Montserrado Investments and the NPA.