Change and growth – painful leaps we must take in the dark

Abdulai Mansaray: 4 July 2019:

The Lungi Bridge has been a talking point for many Sierra Leoneans lately, and the amount of coverage has been well deserved. While some see it as the right step in the right direction for development, others consider it as a self-aggrandising monument or a symbol of avarice by the Bio government.

It is not surprising that it has come in for criticism or applauds from various sections of our society. It is obvious that some of the opinions expressed are deeply rooted in the various political persuasions, which in effect could be suspect; while others are from patriotic standpoints.

But in between these contrasting opinions are those who have received the news with cautious optimism. This group of people may have every reason to be equally optimistic but cautious; optimistic because of the associated potential of the bridge, but cautious because of the hidden or unknown costs.

Like I mentioned in my last article, the president has done his best to re-assure the nation that building the bridge will not leave us handcuffed to any national debt. It has been touted by the government as a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) business model.

This may have left some people with the impression that the bridge will be free. If the bridge was going to be free, you would wonder why all the fuss, or ask why should people be looking a gift horse in the mouth? My layman understanding of the project is that, it will be built, operated by the providers for an agreed contractual period, until the amount invested is repaid.

But what is a BOT business model?

A Build-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) is one type of a public-private partnership, or PPP. Under this project model, a private organization will develop a large project under the contract of a public partner. It is a way to create large infrastructure projects for the public, while being able to use private funding to do it.

At the end of the contract period, which may be 40+ years in length, ownership of the project transfers from the private enterprise to the public sector. Some people have already tied down this BOT to a 99 year lifespan. If that is the case, none of us reading this article now will be around then. Scary, is it?

So what are we trying to bequeath to the unborn generations; and what are the advantages and disadvantages of such a model?

Among the numerous advantages, the BOT model minimises the public cost for infrastructure development, reduces public debt, and allows for innovation. In addition, a BOT model provides a chance to bring in expertise, allows each party to focus on their strengths, and keeps the public-sector where they are most needed.

On the downside, such models can have higher transaction costs, require fund-raising to be successful and only works for large projects. Such a model may also require substantial operational revenues and strong corporate governance to be successful.

Considering that Sierra Leone has a malignant diagnosis of global developmental delay, do we have a strong base for fund raising? The Lungi Bridge project is large, but do we have enough viable successful operational revenues and strong corporate governance ethic?

Can we succeed against a backdrop of pervasive corruption; an affliction that President Bio has sworn to cure? This article is not aimed at pouring cold water on President Bio’s pet project. Rather, it is aimed at generating a conversation for the general good to ensure that we don’t jump head first into the very river that we are trying to bridge. Extra caution and due diligence should be paid to possible Higher Transaction Costs. That may be where the devil is in the detail, in spite of the notion that it will not cost you and me a shilling.

President Maada Bio has just invited bidders to undertake the financing of this project. There is nothing to indicate that bidders are falling over themselves for the opportunity to take on the project. This is not to suggest that there are no bidders. These things take a life of secrecy. But we can second guess the usual suspects, and the Chinese will not be far behind in this race. Chinese investments in Africa in the last two decades have been monumental.

While the rest of the western world have been pre-occupied with regime change in the Middle East, China has unapologetically, but stealthily slipped onto the developmental landscape of the African continent.

Their readiness to splash the cash, in exchange for large swathes of the continent’s markets for their surplus goods on the one hand, and the sourcing of the continent’s vast resources to service their insatiable demands for its ever growing population is an open secret. Some call it economic symbiosis, while others see them like drunken sailors ready to spray the dosh.

Unlike their western counterparts like the IMF, conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that Chinese aid have no strings attached. In case you are wondering, the price of fuel has gone down by 3 pence a litre in the UK, while the IMF recently ordered our government to increase the price of fuel – sorry, remove the fuel subsidy in exchange for $ 21.6 Million. Catch my drift?

But at face value, Chinese investments have been made to look like charitable gestures to the poor. But are they? In contrast, we get to know some of the conditions from the IMF. With the Chinese, those conditions seem to take a cult-like flavour.

This is one of the reasons why some people, while recognising the need for the Lungi Bridge, have remained very cautious. Such cautions are not borne out of thin air, but what you would call received wisdom and the history books.

China has been accused by its geo-political competitors of engaging in “debt traps” for African countries. I prefer to call it “debt-diplomacy” for now, until they start calling for their cash. There is a temptation to dismiss such accusations as coming from green eyed competitors and sour grapes.

According to China Investments Global Tracker, Chinese investments and contracts in sub-Saharan Africa total $299 billion from 2005 to 2018. The Chinese president Xi Jinping vowed to invest a further $60 billion into African nations at the 2018 China-Africa Cooperation Forum.

What is usually sold as “Chinese companies” investing in Africa is grossly false, for the majority of these “companies” are state owned.

In order for us to understand why some folks are cautiously optimistic about this project, we need to look at examples of Chinese “investments around the world in developing countries – in our case underdeveloped. Let’s take the Sri Lankan experience, where the Sri Lankan Port was financed by one of Beijing’s largest state-owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Development Project. With close proximity to the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the forecast was for a strong base for fund raising. But with tens of thousands of ships passing by along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the reality was that the port drew only 34 ships in 2012 (The New York Times-June 25, 2018). With the obvious loss, the government struggled to make payments. Under heavy pressure and series of renegotiations, the Sri Lanka government had no option but to hand over the port and 15,000 acres of land around it to the Chinese for 99 years last December. The Chinese have been known to play hardball when it comes to debt collection.

Interestingly, many believe that the Chinese are allergic to the internal politics of their host countries, in comparison to UK, France or USA. That could be the case, but not if they have investments and contracts to protect.

So where did you think those red T-shirts, Okadas, other promotional materials and the Le30,000 came from during the last elections in Sierra Leone? Now you know why that Chinese guy was dancing during one of our political rallies last year.

Were there any obvious threats from the opposition party to tear up previously agreed contracts, if it came to power? Chinese companies have been known to pump large sums into campaign funds of “friendly political parties” that agree to their terms. They have been known to impose their own preferred companies in the bidding process, as a condition to obtain loans. In some cases, the conditions for loans have been “no open bidding” process (WikiLeaks). Some call these home economics.

There are two ways you can subjugate a country; the sword or debt. I know which the Chinese prefer. Against such a backdrop, there is no doubt that what passes for loans, support, assistance, debt, or whatever you want to call it, always comes with conditions. Beware of the “SMALL PRINT”, for the devil is in the details.

But before we turn a frosty look at Chinese investments in Africa in general, and the Lungi Bridge in particular, it is worth remembering the following. Firstly, our President has just launched the bidding process. This is not to say that the Chinese are, or will be the final winning bid for the Lungi Bridge. But don’t rule the Chinese out as major contenders.

With our President’s assurance that the bridge will not cost you and me a shilling to build, how will this “gift” be paid for? Some have suggested that it will be operated on a toll paying basis, taking a leaf out of EBK’s “How to pay for your Road”, book Two, 2nd edition.

I still can’t figure out the use of the tolls at Mile 38 and 47, other than as cash cows to fund another debt. Have they reduced journey times or congestion? Don’t answer that.

How much will it cost commuters to use the bridge? How many users will it need to make it cost effective or revenue generating friendly? Some may say that this is not the time to “look a gift horse in the mouth”.

But should we “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”? In case, just in case there is a breach of contract, would the Operators ask to operate Lungi Airport as well – to know who comes in or goes out of the country? (Photo: Author – Abdulai Mansaray).

Indications are that the majority of Sierra Leoneans, including me, support the project from a developmental point of view. The caution may be about the unspoken details and inherent economic minefields that such projects might be insidiously embedded.

We need the Lungi Bridge, but at what cost. What some of us are asking is for the government to be very diligent; for once you sign on the dotted line, erasers are no longer available. Once you tick the accept button, you can’t untick. Ask google.

So before we sign and tick the boxes, please read the fine print. And just as a special measure, have a quiet word with the Sri Lankans, and find out where they went wrong. It is not criminal to ask these questions. If it is, then I am guilty as hell. Sorry.

Don’t forget to read the small print. And President Bio is not short of Drs (PhDs), Professors, and Lawyers etc., to do the job. Don’t forget to turn the lights off before you leave the room.

16 Comments

  1. Mr Mansaray – thank you for your very well written,vindictive,sarcastic response. You had me rollin with laugher! Sarcasm is not my style; its crude,and it totally belittles,and diminishes those who use its wimpish methods,to express themselves. If that was done as a way to lick your wounds,and console yourself after you felt you had been unfairly attacked,then go right ahead,brood over your injuries some more – its alright with me its just fine.

    True indeed,that I am loyal to the APC,but trust me,much more also to other things – values,beliefs,and sentiments. To me any time a child goes hungry,a beggar sleeps out in the cold,a disabled struggles without a wheelchair, and the mentally ill is left to roam naked,and uncared for,it is considered as a serious offence,an unforgivable crime being perpetrated by the government against the vulnerable masses.

    Sir,your insistence,that your support of the Lungi is objective,and evenhanded is not completely true – Now consider this,and be your own Judge – ” Indications are,that the majority of SIerra Leoneans,including me,support the project from a development point of view ” MAJORITY? according to what meticulous findings, and diligent research did you come to such a convincing conclusion? Please elaborate,and be kind enough to provide me links to those strange,mysterious sources. I cannot help myself,but to laugh out loud!

    Now let’s refocused our lenses of scrutiny in our quest for truth,and impartiality once again – ” Like I mentioned in my last article,the President has done his best to reassure the nation that building the bridge will not leave us handcuffed to any National debt ” DONE HIS BEST? How? Without showing any concrete,written proofs? Through the use of unfounded,baseless,empty rhetoric? Or from REASSURANCES,resembling the blind leading the blind? Truly laughable!

    Listen,although such a one-sided support, had been skillfully,and cautiously disguised, this in my view is a deliberate, calculated attempt to influence,and sway the opinions of the general public in favor of an expensive,unnecessary Bridge,that they cannot afford. Deny it if you want,but its true! GOTCHA! …Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Thanks saidu. Let history be the judge. If you concentrate on scrutinising my articles instead of personal attacks, that can be only good for me and journalism in general. It helps to keep journalism sanitised and we can all live happier, ever after. Keep the faith. We all don’t have to agree with everything every time. But we can agree to disagree.

      Let history be the judge. I believe that I am on the right side of history, if and only if, the concerns raised are addressed. Get your two town lot brother, before it’s too late. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

  2. Mr Thomas – Its always a delight to have your honorable presence in our midst. Here’s a problem-solving question for you: Is it wise or right for a chicken scratching the ground, desperately in search of food to trade her warm, lucent unhatched eggs, to a troop of cunning, opportunistic foxes for scraps, without even thinking or flinching? Don’t answer it just yet – think on for a minute.

    Honestly, there are times when I am compelled to pause and ask myself whether the harsh realities,that are prevailing in our Country today,are being deliberately ignored for expedient political reasons, or because of the lingering effects of Post traumatic war experiences. Mr Thomas, the economic conditions presently in our little nation,speaks loudly and clearly to everyone of us, like the clear reflection of a full moon, smiling on perfectly still waters.

    Its easy to see that the political atmosphere is not conducive for the effective implementation of such a Mammoth project,as the Lungi bridge,right now. Yet the Bio Government keeps on sending out distorted messages of national approval,that are deceptive,and misleading, like distant smoke signals,in windy weather,coming from the territories of Apache tribesmen.

    Every whiff of smoke coming from the Camps of the SLPP regarding this needless,expensive bridge,is debatable, deceptive, confusing, and needing tremendous effort to be made clear. To be frank, I think just like Mr Mansaray you did quite well in your suggestions,and sincere attempts to reduce the projected cost of the unnecessary Lungi bridge,towards a realistic range,roughly of about a billion dollars. Bravo!

    A truly well deserved applause,but sadly,accordingly,the normal criteria for assessing Fiscal monetary spending still finds your pragmatic reductions in cost, overwhelmingly unfeasible,and impractical…especially when measured against the most urgent of needs that are of highest importance on our Nations Economic Scale of Preferences right now.

    Now let me make an attempt to break things down! With 200 million dollars using local engineers,and labor,and vast acres of free government land, we could build a total of 500,000 one,two,and three bedrooms,self contained affordable housing units,fully supported by numerous standby diesel generating plants,at various strategic points. Affordable means,no matter the levels of income everyone will be able to afford,and have access to it.

    That’s how you change lives,and help people rise above abject poverty. And another 200 million,if we can find it, can be invested in Agriculture,to promote food sufficiency,and increase levels of productivity,for crops like Cocoa,,coffee,and groundnuts for exports,that already,are in high demand worldwide,and also to encourage sustainable increases in hard currency revenues.

    Thousands of jobs will be created in the process – no losers,no complaining,only winners. And if another 200 million is within our grasp we could get 3 brand new Mega sized Commercial ferries,and another 100 million dollars can be used to rehabilitate all boarding points,docks,and roads, leading to,and from Lungi. Now that’s 700 million dollars value for money,wisely spent.

    Please,allow me to proceed – with the remaining 300 million dollars we could reorganize Freetown,and revitalize the private sector completely,through the cautious provisions of low interest loans to small businesses,and the creation of quick revenue yielding manufacturing industries to satisfy local consumption,and export needs. Some monies can also be spent on education,and programs for the elderly,sick,and mentally ill.

    A Billion dollars is a lot of money Buddy – put that in sensible,capable,competent hands,it can turn an African,mosquito infested hell into an enviable,peaceful Paradise – Guaranteed. But wait just a second, Paradise is only possible where extravagance is kept diligently in check,through caution,and restraint in government spending;through the meticulous observance of fiscal,and monetary policies,designed to reinforced currency stability,and encourage economic growth.

    Again,it was quite troubling for me to hear you casually say in your comment; “Let’s go for it,” Well, I have news for you – it ain’t that easy!The Risks involved in PPP projects outweigh the benefits. First there are construction risks,which include thefts of tools,and equipments, increases in the prices of building materials,labor shortages,and poorly written contracts.

    Then comes operational risks,that arises from poor training,and internal failure caused by personnel,and sometimes external forces. “Let’s go for it,”you say? Nope,not so fast – How about the Political Risks to be incurred if power changes hands? Have you even considered such a scenario at all? Investors will do their part but can we do ours? I don’t think so!

    Our attitudes of laziness,poor work ethics,and hopeless indifference,just won’t allow us to measure up to such daunting, uncompromising obligations. “Let’s go for it?” No problem,after first taking into consideration the future global financial landscape,financial crisis looming in the economic horizons,and imminent risks, that may triple,or quadruple our debts,and financial responsibilities overnight.

    It ain’t that easy to do when you are not quite sure if Investors are going to be able to reach their revenues projections, and goals on time – and if they don’t,you will have no other choice but to subsidize those revenues,at the expense of the poor,struggling masses,Now what do you think – should the Chicken still trade her precious unhatched little ones,for scraps to a group of hungry foxes?…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  3. Thank you very much Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas for not only enlightening us on this Lungi Bridge Project but, also making suggestions that will be hard to dispute. By the way, people should start buying their two town lots in the Lungi area before it’s to late. Mr. Abdulai Mansaray mentioned something like that in one of his article.

    I bought my two and a half town lots few years back. The only hurdle I might have to face in the future is this land grabbing problem. There was a brick lying on the lot with the wordings ‘ INFANTRY REGIMENT BRIGADE 1849’. I don’t have any documents for my lots for 1849. Also, the word Toms was written on a clay like block. So, I don’t know what type of proof Dr. Sandy and his Ministry of Lands will ask me to produce sometime down the road. Will my land be taken away from me and given to the military? I hope not?

    GOD BLESS YOU Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas for taking your time to give more light on the Lungi Bridge Project discussion.

  4. Thanks Mr Saidu Conteh for your “brilliant” analysis. I respect your viewpoints. That is the essence of the article; to generate a national debate. For it is only through such, that we can make meaningful decisions and contributions to our country. Sadly, you decided to attack me instead of the issues and view points.

    I may not agree with your views, but I will go to the end of the world to defend your RIGHT to express them. That is freedom of speech, and that is the colour of democracy. If you had read my previous article,and many other ones, you may have noticed that all I did was present the various opinions, which I believe people have about this project; but minus the embedded emotional outburst from you. But I am not surprised as your last phrase “Rising Sun Will Rise Again”, says it all about where you are coming from.

    Unlike you, I don’t have any political party loyalty or affiliation. I support Sierra Leone. That is why I try as humanly possible, to be objective. Interestingly, you advised me not to let my “emotions and feelings of euphoria cloud your logical sense of sagacity,and clearness of vision” (wow – Book man). I am sure our readers can tell who is emotional here and be the judge of that.

    The sad irony is that in trying to condemn the Chinese, you successfully but unconsciously echoed every letter of caution that I expressed in my article; but still accuse me of going to “a lot of trouble trying to sell this Lungi bridge to the general public by suggesting diverse ways to reduce it’s cost,far better than the government has been able to do”.

    Thanks for the compliment and please tell Bio to give me a job. This is where you got me confused. I used only one major example of Chinese investment in Sri Lanka to highlight some of the pitfalls associated with this. Thankfully, you highlighted several more; but confusingly again, you accuse me of selling the idea of the bridge on behalf of the government.

    In my primary school days, we were taught a subject called ” Reading and Comprehension”. I don’t think they teach them now. My humble advice is: Mr conteh, please read my previous article titled: “A bridge too far or Sierra Leone’s new Abuja”. Read the latest one again, and re-read your comment above. After all that, see if you can have some moment to reflect.

    I am aware that it is difficult to soar with eagles, when you fly with crows. But sometimes, it better for me to remain quiet and allow people to assume that I am dumb, than to say something and remove all doubt.

    Mr Conteh, I support neither APC nor SLPP. That is why I enjoy a freedom of thought. Your contribution is highly appreciated. Let us keep the conversation going, as long as we keep it civil and simple (no big English words please. I cant afford to flick between google and your comment each time I read it). That is what Sierra Leone needs: The Big conversations.

    I am sure that the …..”Rising Sun Will Rise Again”. I am sure that Sierra Leone will Rise Again. keep the faith. I think that “Reading and Comprehension” should be a compulsory subject in schools again.

  5. It has been said,that the only thing to be achieved in throwing oneself into abysmal depths of mindless extravagance,and debts,is to act,and feel like an ignoramus,and end up being labeled a fool. True! When a hunter kills,and returns home with a fully grown Buffalo,he doesn’t waste it,giving all of it generously away to his neighbors,leaving nothing but the measly wagging tail for his family to consume,and enjoy.

    The children will start screaming – “this is Madness!” Even so,we cannot afford to throw away mindbogglingly sums of money into the coffers of foreign investors, while our people scramble for scraps,trying to survive,and make ends meet. That’s just plain,and outright silly! An unnecessary bridge is a luxurious national development,we cannot afford at this time; of that I am quite sure!

    I am a strong believer in prudent spending,and the vigorous practice of caution,restraint,and thriftiness in daily governance. Since Independence,we have been mining,and selling diamonds,and taking loans. Yet nothing tangible has ever been accomplished,except finding ourselves,being lost in endless financial maze of debt,that are designed with only tricky entrances,and no exits at all.

    Now hear this – There is no dignity whatsoever to be found scrapping the messy,charcoaled remnants,(Kraawo) from the bottom of pots full of leftovers from the IMF,and Greedy,ruthless investors. Absolutely nothing! Will any among you let a blood thirsty wolf,or mean-spirited hyena,act as a guard dog,watching over your loving family? When will our people ever learn the simple doctrine,and discipline of Cutting their Coats according to their Cloths?

    No wonder Africa is stuck like a broken anchor,at the bottom of the sea of economic progress,unable to achieve anything of great value,and substance. With all due respect to Mr Mansaray,Your support of this unaffordable bridge seems poorly conceived,and misplaced when scrutinized, screened,and measured against the acceptable standards of accountability, and sensible,responsible governance.

    Do not let empty emotions,and feelings of euphoria cloud your logical sense of sagacity,and clearness of vision. Contrary to you sir,I believe in providing the struggling masses with life changing grassroots opportunities that will transform their lives,for the better.

    Affordable housing,dependable,quality healthcare,massive investments in Agriculture,and industrialization are the highest priorities of our nation right now,not a needless,unwarranted,expensive bridge. Putting People First should become our National slogan,because reality is what it is – our nation is dirt poor,and our people are languishing in the depths of abject poverty.

    Again,maybe Mr Mansaray would be kind enough to tell us where the feasibility studies,and other relevant preparation manuals,and reports showing that this idea of building a Lungi bridge was carefully researched are hidden,and tucked safely away.

    If indeed there are any,the general public,whose grandchildren will be shouldering the future responsibilities of this costly bridge would like to see,and assess them. Putting people first means the little guys carrying heavy, backbreaking loads in market places,traders,and fishmongers,are not left behind,but are also granted a pathway to prosperity.

    Everyone must be able to receive their own rightful share of the national cake directly into their wallets,from timely allocations coming straight from the treasuries of government. This is my vision,and it is what Africa needs urgently right now.

    Grass roots governance,putting people first,and building from the bottom towards the top. This Mr Mansaray, is of the highest priority. Why? Because the Scale Of Preference of our beloved nation says it must be so.

    Again,I also noticed that Mr Mansaray went through a lot of trouble trying to sell this Lungi bridge to the general public by suggesting diverse ways to reduce it’s cost,far better than the government has been able to do. Nuff respect! But sadly it was a wasted effort that ended up falling short,like an archers arrow that has lost speed,and missed its intended mark.

    Putting People first – building a society with strong institutions,organised communities where there are no more Slums, ghettos, and people living in squalid and deplorable conditions should be our greatest aspirations,not an unnecessary bridge, that you lack the abilities, work ethics, discipline, firm resolve and mindset to control and maintain.

    You think the Chinese are going to be your Saviors? Trust me,they will end up becoming your belligerent masters.They will pinch your stubborn ears with pliers and burn your skins with the fires of merciless domination,and control. Ask the People of Pakistan about high interest loans being repaid from accruing debts to China, and then move on and listen to more sad stories from Djibouti, Malaysia and Venezuela about being entangled in Chinese Debt Traps. And don’t forget Namibia that is trying to run away from Chinese investments. And lastly, Montenegro about their frightening experiences with the cunning Chinese,that is building them a billion dollar highway to no nowhere.

    Talk to them,and then come back and confide in me, and we’ll see if your pointless,expensive bridge still makes any sense at all…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  6. The objectivity of the article is quite sound along with its cautionary elements which our decisions makers would do well to take a good look at.Indeed the Bio Government would find it helpful to read The Telegraph on a daily basis,particularly the comments of readers which the medium encourages, and they represent a broad section of the feelings of Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad.The comments and suggestions made by readers can be much more efficate than some of those made by our PhD holders in government.

    Abdulai Mansaray’s observation that the West has turned its back on Africa is quite in place.One can profer two main reasons for this.

    The first is quite simply that fatigue has set in all over Europe and North America. Yes donor fatigue now plagues the Western World which has seen no improvement in Africa even after sinking billions of various currencies into it in aid and grants in what has turned out to be a futile effort to lift the continent out of dirt poverty.

    All they see are corruption, wars,diseases,nepotism and a desire to stay behind the rest of the world.They are tired of pitting us, although post independent Africa was substantially undermined by these same donors in their fight against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

    The vacuum created by the departure of the West who now concentrate more on the Middle,The Far East and Continental South America,led by the United States, is what the Chinese are in a hurry to fill before there is any reversal since we live in a dynamic world.

    The Chinese strategy lacks all sophistication : get African countries into huge debts which they cannot pay back and take over the entire continent to recoup all investments. Recolonise them and bury their political freedom as we have it in China.

    The Lungi bride should be constructed, but I would rather a European firm clinched the deal to help the government of President Bio to reduce the unemployment rate in the country;Europeans would tend to bring in just the top engineers and use local labour for the rest of their needs – the Chinese are the opposite.

    If we linger, the cost of the bridge at a later time may well double or triple, as all things do.I wonder what the bridge would have cost us ten years ago -definitely not $2 billion.

    What about the Bunbuna Hydro Project? Had Siaka Stevens gone through with it, rather than hosting the African Union Conference and giving credence to corruption throughout his tenure, the country would have been self sufficient in providing electricity by now. Procrastination and corruption are the sustenance of stagnation and backwardness, from which defeatism also feeds.

    It is quite possible that it may not even take decades for the nation to pay off the contractors for the bridge if the nation is subjected to financial discipline in the midst of ensuring that, all funds generated by our natural resources find their way to the Treasury.

    And, with President Bio’s determination to have our diamonds and iron ore processed in the country eventually, most thieving of our natural wealth will be abruptly ended.For now let us put up with the bidding process which the government has fashioned.

    We need the Lungi bridge to stop the likes of Logus Koroma ,the minister of transport and aviation in the Koroma government,from pocketing nearly all the money given to him to buy new ferries and bring us rotten ones which lose power mid stream.What is our class room Attorney-general doing to bring him back to Sierra Leone in handcuffs?

    Think big President Bio.I am NGC but I support all your moves.I am glad that my leaders in the NGC,Doctors Denis Bright and Kandeh Yomkella are always measured when responding to you.They have class.They don’t condone violence.They believe in the power of the word.

  7. Mr. Mansaray, Your sentence: “And President Bio is not short of Drs (PhDs), Professors, and Lawyers etc.,” says it all.
    Let’s give the president and his men a chance to develop our country. We will forever be saddled with a stagnating economy if we are afraid to open our country to investors. PPP-BOT contracts are popular in South America, which explains why infrastructural development in that part of the world easily dwarfs Africa.

  8. Thank you very much Mr. Abdulai Mansaray for answering all my concerns on this Lungi Bridge Project in your article. Your article is filled with guidelines and answers to all skeptics of the Lungi Bridge Project. Explanation of PPP or BOT was well documented. Simple OBJECTIVE questions and ANSWERS. DISCUSS!

    It seems to me Mr. Abdulai Mansaray, that you are convinced that the Lungi Bridge will be constructed. Your comments at the end of your article makes me feel that way. Is the Lungi Bridge project a done deal? To be honest, I don’t want this bridge to be built because of the unknowns on the cost and loan repayment terms and number of years it would take which you already outlined.

    However keep us informed on any information on this project anytime something whispers on air. Thank you very much for this very useful information over the Lungi Bridge Project. Be rest assured that, I will not forget to turn off the lights before I leave the room. GOD BLESS YOU Mr. Abdulai Mansaray.

    • Thanks Mr Matturi for your observations. Unfortunately, I am none the wiser as to the goings on about the bridge. I am not privy to any inside information. I just highlighted some questions and issues we should keep in mind about such projects. Unlike you, I am supportive of the bridge, provided some of these issues are considered. But rest assured that I will keep my ears to the ground. If I hear anything, you will be the first to know. Don’t leave the lights on when you leave the room. Let’s keep the conversation going. That’s the whole idea.

  9. we are tired of story telling. Let us be honest to our self; stop fooling the Sierra Leonean people. Everyone knows that Sierra Leone has been raped by the western world, since they arrested BAI BUREH. So no panic; let us give chance to the younger generationeven if its takes more than 50 years to repay the debts.

    Let us give chance for the development of Sierra Leone. So the answer depends on the President himself – his excellency president Bio. Developing Sierra Leone is our goal. Let us join hands together for the land that we love our Sierra Leone. God bless Sierra Leone.

  10. Good morning. Sorry, but up to now I have not heard exactly why Sierra Leone need this lungi bridge. And I never heard or seen the planning for the lungi area inclusive the expected costs for its development. For me the “arguments” to this lungi project are all speculations.

    But o.k. start the bidding process – $200.000 for the planning documents each bidder had to pay, is good money for the government wether the bridge will be built or not.

    A small joke: What about support from your former colonial master, especially the queen with the diamonds on her crown. Are they not from Sierra Leone?

    • From the past comments, only Mr. Reinhard Weicha and myself are outright against the construction of the Lungi Bridge Project. It’s not for making any political points. We just want to know the exact rationale behind this project.

      Sometimes, it’s appropriate for the editor of The Sierra Leone Telegraph not to take part openly on our discussions. However, I want to know whether Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas is in favour or against the Lungi Bridge Project. Maybe he will be on the side of Mr. Reinhard Weicha and myself. That will be a boost on our side. I am going to pray.

    • Mr Matturi, let us go for it. Let us have the bridge as it will bring immense economic and social benefits, in terms of industrial development, tourism, decentralisation of public services, job creation and employment, social cohesion and community connectivity. But the government needs to strip off some of the ridiculous added-ons, like the railway line attached on to the bridge; and the planned 6 lane traffic, instead of four. If the government does this, they can bring the projected cost of the bridge down to less than a billion dollars.

      That’s my take in a nutshell as an economic development practitioner and policy analyst of over 30 years’ experience in the field. Yes, we do need a bridge across the river, but the government must be less ambitious. We only need two lanes of traffic, each way. One for normal traffic, and the other for emergency services and for overtaking. We do not need the railway attached to the project. This is unnecessary for Sierra Leone’s level of development in the next 50 years or more.

      Most importantly, we need to drive down the project costs, so that the capita toll charge will not be ridiculously high (I hear something like Le30.000 per head) as is currently being projected. But lets wait and see what the bidders come up with. I guess at some point we will see the feasibility studies report, cost-benefit analysis and business case for the project, submitted by the government to parliament for approval.

    • Reinhard, if you read the previous article on this topic, you might be lucky to find some answers. Just go back and try, in this same newspaper.

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