Lungi Bridge – Seeking transparency, accountability, and sustainability – Op ed

SierraEye: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 December 2023:

Sierra Leone this week announced a landmark agreement with China for the construction of an 8-kilometer bridge connecting Freetown to the Lungi Airport, a project said to be estimated to cost $1.5 billion. While the prospect of improved connectivity between Freetown and Lungi is welcomed, the lack of transparency surrounding the agreement raises critical questions.

One of the primary concerns is the absence of specific details regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Sierra Leone and China. The government must make this document public, shedding light on the terms and conditions of the agreement.

Is the MOU simply for a feasibility study, technical design and costs as the Chief Minister Sengeh suggested in his tweet on 12/1 or full project as the public notice from the Ministry of Information suggests?

Questions linger about the funding – is it a loan, a grant, or a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) arrangement? If it’s a BOT, what are the repayment arrangements, and for how long has Sierra Leone committed to this partnership?

Furthermore, the government should commit to publishing a detailed breakdown of project costs, encompassing construction, financing, and maintenance. An independent oversight body should be established to monitor the project’s progress, ensuring funds are utilized efficiently, and regular public reports should be issued to maintain transparency and build public trust.

The strategic decision to lease the airport to Turkish interests and the bridge to Chinese entities warrants scrutiny from a national security perspective. How does this align with Sierra Leone’s broader security interests?

Concerns about the environmental impact of the bridge construction are paramount. What assessments have been conducted, and what steps will be taken to minimize the project’s environmental footprint?

The Sierra Leone River estuary’s ecosystem must be safeguarded, and clear plans for managing and disposing of construction waste responsibly are imperative. A comprehensive plan to mitigate negative social and environmental impacts is essential for responsible development.

The labour standards applied to the project are of utmost importance. The government should clarify how it intends to protect workers’ rights, prioritize local employment opportunities, and prevent labour exploitation. Ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions is a non-negotiable aspect of responsible infrastructure development.

As Sierra Leone embarks on this significant infrastructure project, the government must address these pressing questions and concerns. Transparency, accountability, and sustainability should be the guiding principles, ensuring that the Freetown-Lungi airport bridge becomes a symbol of progress and prosperity for all Sierra Leoneans. The citizens deserve not just a physical bridge but a bridge to a future built on trust, responsible governance, and shared economic benefits.


  1. A Chinese wearing an APC t-shirt meant what – the actual price for a piece of Sierra Leone ? An actual contract for the construction of a new airport signified what? Can this be juxtaposed with a price of $55m for the serene Black Johnson Beach, a complete loss of sovereignty? May be some us would sell part of our bedroom for the right price.
    Now then, do we know what the MOU between Bio and the Chinese contain? Oh forgive me, Bio doesn’t know what transparency means, the general elections of 24th June 2023 revealed that, which has now subjected the country to virtual international sanctions. Have the MCC funds of half a billion dollars been given to us yet? There is loud cry for objectivity here. I am not for APC or SLPP, I am for mother Sierra Leone.

  2. A person that is under pressure while simultaneously being afraid is very dangerous. The meaning of tenacity, self-confidence and rational thought have no place in such a person. He sees enemies everywhere. If such a person is the leader of a nation he could kill his fellow countrymen and women on a large scale to preserve his position. This was what Joseph Stalin did In Soviet Russia. Bio has the makings of that.

    Hounded by the illegitimacy of his presidency, virtual international isolation, social media criticisms, a failed economy, Bio now feels that he has to deploy all trickery to claw back some trust from the majority of the people. The signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese for the construction of the Lungi bridge is one of them. He knows the mentality of most Sierra Leoneans, they have the knack to completely misunderstand things; they will construe the MOU as a formal contract for the commencement of the construction of the bridge rather than a simple contemplation with no teeth or claws, let alone legal undertones. A potential boost for Bio’s fast waning popularity if there was ever any.

    Our collective amnesia and lack of analytical power are heading us to the point where we could entirely be erased as a nation. Bio nearly sold Black Johnson Beach for $55m to the Chinese a couple of years ago but for the public outcry it unleashed. Yes Dr Sama Banya, a lifelong and respected member of SLPP was part of it. Therefore the call by this article for complete transparency in Bio’s MOU with the Chinese could not be more in place. A desperate Bio would sell us for free to the Chinese if it enhanced his hold on power.

    • The previous Govt. of EBK was the one that nearly sold Sierra Leone to the Chinese. Have we all forgotten the Chinese Citizens who were wearing APC T-Shirts and loudly talking part in Campaign activities 2018 in Freetown?

      Have we already forgotten the hundreds of Chinese Citizens and large Number of Mining Machines which the present Administration captured in 2018/2019 that had been operating illegally under the APC in Sierra Leone?

      Have we also forgotten the Mamama-Airport Project of $350.000.000 and many such Projects which the Bio Administration had to Stop? Mr Bio said the project represented “debt with interest” of USD350 million and added: “We do not believe that Sierra Leone should be indebted with hundreds of millions of dollars of debt with interest just to build an airport”.

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