Like President Bio’s flagship free quality education project which was greeted with great skepticism by a large segment of the population who said it was mere talk; given that President Bio had said he inherited a broke state, reports are that feasibility studies for eventual construction of a bridge across the River Rokel from Freetown to Lungi will start on February 6th 2019.
It could be recalled that when President Bio and a large government delegation visited China last August at the invitation of the Chinese President to attend the China-Africa Summit, President Bio met with the crème de la crème of the Chinese investment community with a view to attracting them to come and seek opportunities in Sierra Leone.
Among the investment leaders, President Bio met with was the CEO of China-Power, a multifaceted company. President Bio spoke with him on the possibility of building the Lungi Bridge which was promised by former Presidents Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and his successor, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma but did not come to fruition.
China Power’s CEO had promised President Bio to send a team to do feasibility studies on the construction. As such, the China-Power team that will arrive any time from now will, among other things, look at the possible route for the bridge, how it would engineered, how much it would cost as well as do a cost-benefit analysis and on what basis the government would choose to repay the loan which will come from the Government of China’s finance structure and would not place any additional budgetary strain on the country as the Mamamah Airport project which was condemned by the IMF and World Bank would have.
Some have asked why President Bio should think of building an expensive Lungi Bridge when there are more pressing existential day-to-day issues that his government should focus on delivering on.
There are several socio-economic justifications for building the Lungi Bridge that were clearly outlined by former President Koroma including extending the living space in the overcrowded Freetown city to the vast land that lie over the Rokel River that stretches for over 60 kilometers in Port Loko and Beyond.
Secondly, with Bollore and Nectar working to expand the Freetown Quay to become a major transshipment hub for landlocked West African counties, the bridge will shorten travel time from Freetown to Guinea and beyond to other countries. The planned increased trade would eventually more than pay for the bridge.
Thirdly, building of the bridge would also go with other supplementary infrastructural developments including an international conference center at Lungi and expansion of the Lungi airport.
Fourthly, air travel passengers and the people of Lungi and Port Loko in generally will no longer after the bridge is constructed have to worry about ferry delays non-availability of ferries and can travel 24-7 from their district to Freetown and back easily, conveniently and cheaply.