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“Window of opportunity” closing fast on SPO’s Ranadi relocation, warns businessman Eke

SPO Chairman Gideon Zoleveke Jnr

SOUTH Pacific Oil’s relocation to Ranadi could be in jeopardy with a warning that the window of opportunity on the move is closing fast.

Real estate developer, Abraham Eke, who owns the seafront land at Ranadi, told Island Sun yesterday that while he is happy about the announcement by the SPO Chairman Gideon Zolaveke jnr last week that SPO’s Point Cruz depot is moving to Ranadi, the relocation is subject to settlement of final payment, which has been outstanding for more than six years.

“Yes, I am happy that after more than six years there finally is some movement. But I would like to say also that the relocation to Ranadi by SPO is subject to settling the outstanding payment for access to the new depot from overseas fuel ships,” Mr Eke said.

“Without that access, there would be no fuel in the new depot. That is the reality that SPO must understand. They also need to understand that I could simply decide against selling the access land,” he said.

“That window of opportunity is closing fast. It is in the interest of SPO and indeed the public that SPO make up its mind, given the traffic situation we are experiencing in town every day,” the businessman said.

Mr Eke told Island Sun last October that SP Oil, a subsidiary of the Solomon Islands National Provident (SINPF) bought a parcel of land he owned at Ranadi in 2010.

The seafront industrial estate site, near the Ranadi dumpsite was to be the new home for SP Oil’s fuel storage depot, being relocated from its Point Cruz site.

After waiting more than six years, the businessman is wondering whether SP Oil was still interested in completing the transaction.

“There’s been no movement in the last six years,” Mr Eke said then.

“Yes, they have paid for the land. But there’s an important aspect of the land for which payment remains outstanding. That aspect is the seafront area where the fuel pipeline for refuelling from overseas ships would run through,” Mr Eke told me.

“They know my price and without paying there would be no movement on developing this new depot. At SBD9 million, my price is very reasonable. It works out at a little over SBD4 per square metre, whereas the true commercial value of this transaction would be $1, 000-plus per square metres,” he told Island Sun.

“The question now is whether or not they are prepared to proceed in completing the payment,” Mr Eke said.

“It’s been more than six years since the initial payment was made. They should now move quickly to complete the transaction because I think the need to relocate the current depot away from the centre of town is obvious and urgent to everyone. It’s up to them. I am ready when they are,” Mr Eke said.

No comments could be obtained from SP Oil. Its Chairman, Gideon Zolaveke jnr, is away overseas until the end of the month.

Last week he announced a $61 million payout to Solomon Islands National Provident Fund, its parent company as dividend from the previous year’s trading.

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