Minister of Transport and Aviation Leonard Balogun Koroma has said in Freetown that the negative impact of the deadly Ebola outbreak on the country’s economy has made it impossible for government to make the initial deposit to VIKA company in Holland to construct two more ferries.
“The effect of Ebola in the country makes the economic situation very challenging. At the moment, government is yet to make the initial deposit to VIKA Company to enable them build the two new ferries,” Mr. Koroma said on 98.1 FM Good Morning Salone programme recently.
He said government had already completed the procurement process and sought approval to award the contract to VIKA Company in Holland to build the two new ferries.
He added that the government was aware of difficulties passenger face while traveling to and from Lungi, adding that they attached great importance to Lungi, which hosts the country’s sole international airport, hence they were working hard to repair all five ferries in the country.
The five ferries include two owned by NASSIT [National Social Security Trust], Great Scarcies, Mahera and MV Mozuck.
Minister Koroma also spoke about the establishment of the Marine Slipway to repair the two ferries owned by NASSIT, disclosing that his ministry had also established the Ferry Task Force that he chairs. He said membership of the committee includes his ministry, Sierra Leone Ports Authority, Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, ferry operators and Holland Shipyard.
The ferries have intermittent broke down in the recent past causing huge hardship to passengers travelling abroad and those who reside in Lungi and environs.
The NASSIT ferries cost the government billions of Leones, but like the controversial purchase, the ferries as expected have been largely dysfunctional. The other privately owned ferries have not fared any better either.