Sierra Leone’s deepening ties with China spark unease and scrutiny

Mackie M Jalloh: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 March 2024:

In a surprising turn of events, Sierra Leone has found itself entangled in a series of agreements favouring Chinese companies, raising questions about the government’s commitment to its citizens and historical alliances.

The Sierra Leone government has reportedly signed multiple agreements, granting significant infrastructure projects to Chinese companies. Among these, the majority of road infrastructures, the Lumley Juba Bridge, and the national stadium construction contracts have been handed over to Chinese firms.

Furthermore, the Pepel rail agreement heavily leans towards the Chinese mining company, China Kingho, now Leone Rock Mining Group, sidelining the interests of Sierra Industrial Zone a potential investment from India.

Perhaps the most contentious issue is the recent signing of the Lungi Bridge contract with a Chinese entity. Critics argue that such agreements are indicative of Sierra Leone becoming increasingly submissive to the Chinese government, potentially overshadowing historical ties with its former colonizer, England.

The government’s decision to increment toll fees on citizens, coupled with an extension of the concession period from 25 to 27 years, has fuelled public scepticism and ignited concerns about the nation’s sovereignty.

Citizens are questioning the rationale behind the government’s preference for Chinese partnerships over agreements with other countries, particularly those with which Sierra Leone shares historical and cultural bonds.

This apparent shift in alliances has led to a growing sense of discontent among the population, with many wondering why the government seems more aligned with China than its longstanding colonizer, England.

Critics argue that such decisions might compromise Sierra Leone’s autonomy and raise questions about the transparency of the deals.

Local activists and opposition figures are calling for a thorough investigation into these agreements, demanding accountability and transparency from the government. They assert that the nation’s resources and infrastructure projects should be managed in a manner that prioritizes the welfare of the citizens, rather than catering to the interests of foreign entities.

As Sierra Leone grapples with these controversial contracts, the story continues to unfold, with citizens anxiously awaiting the government’s response to the growing discontent and concerns surrounding the nation’s allegiances and government’s decision-making processes.


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