The World Bank Country Office in Sierra Leone and the sub-region has expressed interest to look into long term possibility for the construction of an alternative means of transportation in the form of a bridge from Lungi to the capital and other places instead of the construction of a multi-million dollar airport project.
This disclosure was made over the weekend, Saturday 13th August 2016 at the Golden Tulip former Kimbima Hotel at Aberdeen during a joint press conference between the Government of Sierra Leone (through the Ministry of Information and Communication) and the World Bank Country Office.
The occasion was for the announcement of a five hundred thousand dollar free high-speed internet service to ten best performing secondary schools and ten tertiary institutions in the country.
According to Dr. Henry Kirali, Country Director for Sierra Leone and West Africa based in Accra, the timing for the Mamamah Airport project is not yet feasible but that other alternatives can be explored in the long term.
“The second issue also looks at alternatives, the World Bank has made a commitment to improve connectivity with Lungi and we will also help the government to look at longer term options for opening up the Port Loko area; maybe the construction of a bridge, a toll bridge. These are options that need to be looked at in the long term,” Dr. Henry Kirali said.
Contextualizing the notion with regard to the promise that World Bank will offer help in every sector but excluding the construction of an international airport at the moment, Dr. Henry Kirali said he will not avoid replying to the questions about Mamamah because journalists were expecting that the World Bank will avoid it.
In reply he said: “I have said before, that as far as the World Bank is concerned, we look at the economic viability of investments, particularly infrastructural investments.
If we have a proposal for spending three hundred and fifty million dollars on an airport; the first thing we ask is: how many flights are coming per day?”
He noted that although there will come a time for the need of such a project to be implemented, “when you have enough flights per day to justify the construction of a three hundred and fifty million dollar airport, then there is no problem.”
Dr. Henry Kirali further said: “Right now, you have fewer flights per day, per week to justify the construction of such an airport.”
“So, once again, when the timing is right and you have enough flights to justify the construction of a second and bigger airport, we will be the first one to offer support,” Dr. Henry Kirali assured the press.
Apparently, the ruling APC government had described the construction of Mamamah Airport as a ‘legacy project’, and the Chinese Ambassador Zhao at one point had made a case for its construction due to transportation delays from Lungi to the capital.