President Bio reviews progress at new international airport terminal construction site

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 March 2022:

Last week, there was confusion and surprise when the government of Sierra Leone’s Chairman of the Office of the Presidential Infrastructure and Initiatives, Dr John Tambi described the ongoing construction work taking place adjacent to the Lungi International Airport as “a new international airport”, published in the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

But last Friday, the script was changed by the government, when President visited the site where work started on 12 November 2020, costing $270 million, describing the construction as “the new airport terminal project that will accommodate one million passengers per year once complete later this year.”

To put the value-for-money comparisoon into Sierra Leone’s economic context, the previous APC government wanted to build a new airport costing $400 million not far from Lungi. Today President Bio is constructing a new airport terminal and runway next to the existing airport at a cost of $270 million.

Chairman of the Office of the Presidential Infrastructure and Initiatives, Dr John Tambi, said that the President’s visit to the site was to review the work of the “SUMMA Group in expanding the capacity of the existing airport to an estimated 13,200 square miles from the current 7,200 square miles.”

“This is the largest Turkish investment in Africa so far and when completed it will give a facelift to our country and open it to investment,” Tambi said.

Country Director of the SUMMA Group in Sierra Leone, Ibrahim Sheriff, said they are a multinational Turkish company operating in about 8 African countries, adding that they are building a new terminal that will tansform Lungi airport.

He said the company has employed hundreds of Sierra Leoneans from the local community, and that the SUMMA Group will continue to impact lives and add to the socio-economic development of the country.

“At the end of this year, we will all be gathered here again to celebrate the completion of this all-important project,” Sheriff concluded.

President Bio thanked the people of Lungi for hosting and supporting the project. He emphasised that the construction work is the largest such investment in Africa by the Turkish developer, a demonstration of confidence in his government.

The President also said that Lungi airport is the gateway to the country, hence a modern airport is not only important in beautifying the country but also in attracting direct foreign investments.

“I am pleased with the progress made so far. I am very excited to be here and to share this moment with you. Thank you very much,” President Bio concluded.

 

2 Comments

  1. The politics of personal greed, self indulgence, personal gratification, egotistical, with the overall objective of portraying ones relevance and self recognition, at the expense of national interest, is what will continue to stagnate impoverished nation’s such as ours. For ease of access and other factors, the former APC regime devise a much needed infrastructural project for a new airport at a strategic location at Mamamah. Monies to the tune of millions of dollars spent on surveying, design, planning, and the relocation of land owners.

    For political expediency at the expense of national interest, the SLPP government headed by Bio lambasted the project, castigating the idea as unnecessary and too expensive. This culminated to media campaign against the said project, leading to an immediate cancelation of the contract signed between the outgoing APC regime and the Chinese investors upon the SLPP taking governance, sending shockwaves across potential international investors.

    Fast forward several years down the road, a new airport baby project, adjacent to the existing airport, aptly called by the SLPP, BUILD and TRANSFER, to the tune of $270 million is at play. This reminds me of the dual carriage toll road from Wellington to Masiaka, conceived by the former APC regime, built upon the existing single lane at the time. Like the Mamamah airport, while in opposition at the time SLPP were against it; however, upon taking over power, they now claim accolades for overseeing it final completion. Like the toll road, the nation will have to pay for the new airport expansion one way or another, this is despite ease of access to the airport remaining a major obstacle at the end of day. Pathetic!

  2. I hope the Chairman of the Office of the Presidential Infrastructure and Initiatives, Dr John Tambi, knows what he is talking about and did not actually say they are trying to expand the capacity of the existing airport to an estimated 13,200 square miles from the current 7,200 square miles. Lungi is not that big and 13,200 Square miles is half the size of our entire country. I am of the opinion that we do need a new airport, but is Bio really this political. He knocks the previous administration for wanting to build an airport, then jumps on the bandwagon as soon as he is elected.

    This might be a build and transfer after a few decades as opposed to taking on a loan to pay for it, but either way, we will be paying for it. What fees will be levied on travellers to pay for it. SUMMA is not building it for free. Also, how does it make sense to put a new airport in Lungi. Our ferry system is not robust and is embarrassing, Tagrin is dirty and embarrassing, not a place we should be sending foreigners to. Mamamah would have been better. Oh well.

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