Performing his last big public function, President Ernest Bai Koroma during the commissioning of the Mamamah International Airport maintained, “I’m aware if we don’t take big decisions we will not be able to transform this country”.
This historic event took place yesterday at the proposed site of the new international airport at Koya along the Port Loko district. The first International Airport in Sierra Leone was commissioned in 1947 at Kaffu Bullom, Lungi, Port Loko district and the second international Airport is also now been commissioned at the same Port Loko district but at different locations.
Making the keynote statement, President Koroma disclosed the Mamamah International Airport project is one of his dream projects which he believes is transformational for the country as it will not only improve on the country’s economic strength but also expose the country to potential investors.
“This is one of the major projects I’ve lined up to transform the country but unfortunately there is still another big project which is the Lungi Bridge,” he said, disclosing, “I don’t believe I will be able to commission it but will be done by the next government before the end of 2018”.
According to President Koroma “if we don’t think big and be bold enough to make those decisions this country will not be transformed even if we spend ages we will continue to lack behind”, disclosing that they have set themselves a target of getting the country to a middle income country by 2035.
He said if the country is serious of achieving those targets, transforming the country and also diversifying the country’s economy, “ we have to take bold decisions that are visionary” explaining that such decisions are not easy to take as they are not looking at the local or national communities but also the international community.
President Koroma disclosed that the three projects that will help improve the educational, health and agricultural sectors are the new airport, which will have a new city and administrative buildings, the expansion of the Queen Elizabeth II Quay into a transshipment port and the Lungi Bridge that will transform the Lungi community into a very big economic zone as negotiations are at advance stage.
According to President Koroma the new airport will not only attract tourists but will also decongest Freetown the current Capital, which will become the second City after the completion of the Mamamah Airport and the new City.
Speaking on behalf of the Chinese Government at the ceremony, Wu Peng, the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone disclosed the commissioning is not only about the airport but also economic and social transformation through the new economic zone and new city that will open up the country to the rest of the world.
According to him as a way of enable the country in repaying the soft loan the Chinese Government have made a special financial arrangement by offering the Sierra Leonean government a grant to subside the interest rate in the tune of 200 million Yuan equivalent to $31m.