BY DOH JAMES SONKEY
The public has been reassured that Cameroon’s National Refining Company Ltd better known by its French acronym as SONARA in Limbe, piloted by its General Manager, Jean Paul Simo Njonou, is alive and doing well, despite the fire incident of last May 31, 2019. The message of reassurance was echoed to thousands of visitors who took turns at SONARA’s stand during this year’s edition of the Government Action Exhibition Fair dubbed SAGO 2020, last September 22 to 25, 2020 at the Yaounde Multipurpose Sports Complex.
Talking to The SUN, SONARA’s Director of Communication, Public Relations, Translation and Interpretation, Ebong Pende Epiekesse Divine, who led the company’s delegation to the nation’s capital on the occasion, explained that “We came to SAGO2020 to reassure and confirm to the Cameroonian public that SONARA is alive and doing well despite all odds brought by the fire incident of last May 31, 2019. Government took the appropriate measures to ensure that the local or national market is continuously supplied with petroleum products. The gratitude of the management of SONARA goes to the Head of State who earlier, immediately after the fire incident, instructed government to ascertain that the local Cameroonian market does not run short of petroleum products. So, he instructed government to ensure that all jobs at the level of SONARA and even the payroll at SONARA are maintained and not tampered with. Of course, this will not go without corporate image building and that is why we are here in Yaounde at SAGO2020.”
On their message to the public, Ebong Pende said “we came to tell the public of what SONARA is good at doing. At the moment, we are doing trading loosely called ‘buyam sellam.’ We import petroleum products and sell to various customers particularly the Cameroonian market.”
On how they go about getting the petroleum products, he said “We buy petroleum products mostly from North West and Eastern Europe around Amsterdam. We pay directly there but deliveries are done at Lome in Togo. So basically that is how the trading operation is conducted. All is well and we think that SONARA buys the spirit, the philosophy and vision of SAGO because it is a lofty initiative and it is incumbent on all companies, structures and organisations to accompany the government whenever necessary, so SONARA is doing just exactly that, playing its own role in ensuring that Cameroon becomes an emergent country by 2035 as envisaged by the government.”
On what has become of SONARA’s Extension and Modernisation project whose first phase was almost near completion, the Director of Communication, Public Relations explained that “The first phase of the project was almost completed until the fire incident came. This has halted the continuation of the project but we are very optimistic about the future because efforts are on, government is working tooth and nail to ensure that the destroyed and affected units of SONARA are rehabilitated. The Corona virus pandemic too came and had negative impact on this rehabilitation works. I think now that the pandemic is witnessing a downward trend, we are optimistic that in the nearest future, the rehabilitation works will commence because government is talking about it.”
Before the fire incident it should be recalled, SONARA officials said their company was refining less than 10% of crude oil that is produced in Cameroon and the rest came from Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria etc. It was therefore refining about 90% of crude oil that comes from outside and that is why SONARA decided to go into the extension and modernisation project so that upon completion, it will be able to refine between 70% and 100% of crude oil coming from Cameroon. The advantages will be enormous as cost will be reduced in terms of transportation and delivery deadline etc, The SUN learnt.