Mohamed Amara Gando: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 February 2022:
While the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) government has been making efforts to chase out blackout from some parts of the country, one area that is still plunged in pitch darkness is the Lungi International Airport area where some residents, including business enterprises, largely rely on generators to light up their homes and businesses as the country heads to the polls in 2023.
Some observers say the lack of power at Lungi, where the international airport is located, is a national embarrassment.
In an exclusive interview with Beyond Borders on the management of the airport, the General Manager (GM) of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority (SLAA), Jack Massaquoi, confirmed that for the past few years they have been running on generators and have been spending over Le 150 million from revenue collected on fuel. According to the GM, they are using one bowser of fuel every five days.
“For the past year or more, the Airport Authority has been generating power on its own to keep the airport running and without power there is no airport,” he said among other challenges.
On allegations of corruption and harassment of passengers, Massaquoi assured of their unflinching commitment to passengers, emphasizing that they are doing everything humanly possible to bring sanity to the airport.
He reiterated that all those who are not supposed to be in the terminal have been removed, stating they have reduced the facilitation of passengers to only diplomatic passport holders.
“We have adopted as management a zero tolerance for extortion and illegal facilitation,” he said, adding that collectively the Authority and all other agencies must collaborate to ensure that they have a safe and comfortable airport.
Commenting on the various agencies at the airport, the GM said, “The airport is being managed by the airport authority (SLAA). We are the parent body, but the airport has several agencies operating. When you take the whole airport configuration into consideration, you find out that the first set of people you meet on arriving in the country is the immigration, then you meet the port health, and then you go to the baggage reclaim area and now with the current threat of COVID -19, after going through the routine, you go for the Covid-19 test. That is the normal routine then you move out of the airport,” he said.