October 9, 2015 By M.B. Jalloh in Saudi Arabia
Unlike previous Sierra Leoneans leaders whose intentions were never turned into actions, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is a man of his words; he would never promise what he could not fulfill. The massive development projects his administration has embarked upon over the last seven years speak for themselves. The truth is most of the promises he made in his manifesto have been accomplished; though there are still many challenges to overcome.
When President Ernest Bai Koroma launched his flagship Mamamah International Airport Project last year, critics had thought that it was a grandiose plan for construction of a new airport of international standard when we already have the Lungi International Airport. Some opposition members jumped at the conclusion that the Government would not be able to source funds for the construction of the new airport when the Government started facing some difficulties that would have led to the abandonment of the project. But little did they realize that the leadership ability of President Koroma and his desire to develop Sierra Leone before he leaves office has won the confidence of great world leaders who are always ready to come to his aid when necessary.
President Koroma was in New York recently to attend the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters. The quintessential President however confessed to the President of the Peoples Republic of China, Xi Jinping, that for Sierra Leone, the result of his bilateral meeting with him was the highest point in this year’s UN General Assembly. According to reports, the historic bilateral meeting between President Koroma and China’s President Xi Jinping, which was held on the margins of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly at the UN Headquarters on Monday 28th September, 2015, culminated in a friendly offer from the Chinese leader.
What made our President a very delighted man in New York was when his Chinese counterpart promised that his country would ensure that the Mamamah Airport Project is continued. What a blessing for ‘Mama Salone’?
Those who had thought that the project would become a white elephant would start to rethink their devilish intentions about the project. This is not the first time the Peoples Republic of China will be funding a multi-million dollar project in Sierra Leone; it has funded multiple projects across the country, including the construction of the Siaka Stevens Stadium, Youyi Building, construction of roads and bridges, you name it.
The Chinese President promised our President that the project will continue; let’s consider it done because that country has never disappointed Sierra Leone. Let’s only hope and pray that the project will recommence as soon as possible.
I was emotionally touched by the President’s statement that Sierra Leone had waited for the project for over fifty years since independence and Sierra Leoneans would be very disappointed if it was not completed after all the publicity it had received and the excitement it had generated among the people. One would actually sense President Koroma’s passion for national development, which may have prompted the bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart and his strong appeal to win for help in keeping the project alive. Indeed, the President had every reason to be delighted at the announcement because it was a tremendous relief for him given the negative thoughts of detractors.
Sierra Leoneans should be happy for the promise made by the Chinese leader that his nation will do everything to help Sierra Leone continue the airport project. And when the project is finally completed, we expect many advantages that will lead to economic growth as it will attract more investors to Sierra Leone, and this will have the potential of boosting tourism and trade.
It would also bring abundant economic opportunities to the citizens of the country as highlighted by our President. The completion of the project will also lead to de-urbanization as many people in the municipality of Freetown will create new settlements at Mamamah as indicated by the vast land people had already acquired there.
President Koroma, in his evaluation of Sierra Leone, also believes that the country is at the moment a win-win situation. According to him, “The IMF and the MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation) are on board to help Sierra Leone. And now the Chinese – so it’s a big relief.” Because of this situation, the president has also renewed his commitment to bring sustainable socio-economic and political developments to Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone is fortunate that both IMF and MCC are on board to help us in that the country needs more support from development partners for the post-Ebola socio-economic recovery in order to consolidate the gains the Koroma-led administration has made prior to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the sub-region.
Let’s hope that other international financial institutions and development partners will also come on board to help Sierra Leone speed up the post-Ebola recovery programme and embark on more national development programmes that will help reduce poverty among Sierra Leoneans.
I believe that we are very fortunate as a nation to have a patriotic President like His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma whose love for his compatriots is a motivation for the exemplary work he is doing for us. His Government is implementing development projects in every part of Sierra Leone, including remote places that had long been neglected by previous Governments since independence. His development strides do not know any partisanship, ethnicity or region but purely holistic and nationalistic. We should therefore extol President Koroma’s patriotic leadership because he cares for the development of every Sierra Leonean.