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Koroma says bold decisions needed to diversify economy

-as he turns the sod for construction of Mamamah Airport

March 5, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

President Ernest Bai Koroma turning the sod at Mamamah

President Ernest Bai Koroma on Thursday reckoned that bold and important decisions that are visionary were needed to be taken, if they were serious about diversifying the country’s economy for the better.

The president was speaking at the official turning of sod for the construction of the Freetown International Airport at Mamamah last Thursday March 1st, 2018.

In February this year, the Government of Sierra Leone signed a $318million agreement with the Chinese government for the construction of a new airport at Mamamah. The construction of the airport is being funded by the Chinese government through a concessional loan facility provided by the China Exim Bank and phase one of the project is expected to last for four years.

In his statement, President Koroma said his government has set itself a target of getting the country to a middle income status by 2035

“When I came into governance, I look at the potentials of this country. I know that if we don’t take big decisions we cannot be able to transform our nation. If we are serious about diversifying the economy, we have to take big and bold decisions,” he said.

President Koroma stated that when he assumed office ten years ago, he spoke about the need to transform the country by improving on the health, education and agricultural sectors.

With regards the airport, the President noted that it has lots of advantages, citing the development of tourism, connecting the country to the international world and job opportunities.

“I believe that as a country, God has given us the potential for us to be where we are today. We have been strategically located but we have to build the infrastructure to maximise our potential to the fullest,” President Koroma said and added that the new airport will enhance economic diversification and revenue generation.

He said the Mamamah International Airport Project was one of the major projects he had lined up to transform the country, disclosing that steps have been taken for the construction of the Lungi Bridge.

Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wu Peng, expressed his delight to be present at the commissioning to construct a new airport, which he described as a historic moment in the development of Sierra Leone.

According to the Chinese Ambassador, the construction of the airport would ensure a sustainable economic and social development which will bring the government closer to the world.

He said the two countries have enjoyed strong bilateral relationship for the past forty years and that they have been devoted to a win-win development.

Ambassador Peng disclosed that they have put together a special financial arrangement for the project and that they would use the government grant to subsidise the interest rate.

Minister of State I in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Momoh Vandi said: “The commissioning demonstrates a shared vision for economic f

Earlier, Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, stated that when completed, the airport would be more convenient with all the components of a modern international airport, including a 3500 runway, fire station, duty free shops, VIP Lounge, extensive parking, underground fueling and four carousels, among others.

According to him, the airport would be important for the country’s next stage of transformation for many reasons, including safety and emergency and attraction of investment.

“The airport will be good for business, tourism and development. It will serve as an impetus for the massive expansion of the city of Freetown, which by itself will help to decongest our old city,” he said.

Project Director, Morlai Buya Kamara, said a total of 21,000 acres of land have been allocated for the construction of the airport and that contribution of the government will look at those that will be affected by the project.

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