Chinese Amb. Says: ‘Sierra Leoneans should decide the fate of Mamamah Airport’
December 7, 2015
Chinese Ambassador, Zhao Yanbo, has told pressmen that the Mamamah Airport construction can only go ahead if the people of Sierra Leone decide they want a new airport.
He was speaking last week at the Chinese Embassy during a press briefing, just before he left Freetown to attend the Summit of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and 6th Ministerial Meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa China Africa.
Ambassador Zhao recalled that when he first arrived in Sierra Leone it was a nightmare for him and his wife as they had to use a yacht to cross into the city, which he said was very fearful.
The top Chinese envoy in Sierra Leone noted that because of the difficulty of reaching the city from the airport, many business people refuse to come to Sierra Leone. “Sierra Leone, if I am correct, is the only country that you have to cross by a ferry into the city.”
Ambassador Zhao revealed that the Exim Bank has provided the loan to construct the Mamamah airport and that the country will pay the interest in the next seven years, while the loan repay would be due in twenty years.
“What IMF is saying that the country’s economy is not viable to take that loan is absurd; will Sierra Leone remain the same in the next twenty years? The new airport is part of the government’s ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ and it will be of immense economic benefit and it will grow the country’s economy,” posited Amb. Zhao
He said his hope was that the people of Sierra Leone will decide their fate and wish that the government will find a way to get the airport going because there are lots of economic benefits that comes with the construction of a airport.
Amb. Zhao said that at the FOCAC meeting in South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Ernest Koroma will discuss many infrastructural development projects under the South-South Cooperation.
President Xi Jinping announced at the summit over the weekend that China will provide US$60bn in assistance and loans to Africa, involving zero interest loans, focusing on infrastructure projects to help boost the economy.
It is expected that Sierra Leone will benefit from a significant amount of the pledged amount to help the government construct the airport, despite the International Monetary Fund and World Bank raising the red flag.