President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio has engaged the PowerChina International Group Ltd. for construction of the Lungi Bridge, which will link Freetown and Lungi.
The prospect for construction of a bridge linking the capital city and Lungi has always seemed farfetched, but the president’s meeting with PowerChina International Group Ltd. has rekindled hope that the dream is becoming a reality.
Travelling in and out of the country via Lungi is a challenge for visitors from abroad who have to use a ferry, a boat, or helicopter to crossover to the city. The experience is even worse for residents doing business along that route as well as children attending schools in the city.
“The President, who had always kept the massive project very close to his heart, could not hide that sentiment weeks ago when a foreign delegation paid him a courtesy call at State House and he told them that he was actively looking for reputable companies to engage on the construction of a bridge linking the port city of Freetown on the Atlantic Ocean to the north-western airport town of Lungi,” said Tanu Jalloh, communications manager, State House Media & Communications Unit.
Jalloh said during the elections as then Presidential Candidate, His Excellency President Bio was fondly remembered as the candidate who repeatedly stated that he would be a President who would ‘underpromise’ and ‘overdeliver’ rather than a President who ‘overpromised’ and ‘underdelivered’.
Explaining the importance of the proposed Lungi Bridge, President Bio said that the bridge would open Sierra Leone for business and attract more investors and tourists.
He also said that Freetown was too congested and that construction of the bridge would not only reduce congestion, but would also promote economic development. He encouraged PowerChina International to consider the construction of the Lungi Bridge as a very important project that would bring huge relief to many Sierra Leoneans and make the country an enviable tourist destination.
President of PowerChina International Group Ltd, Mr. Song Dongsheng, praised President Bio for his great leadership and passion for attracting investors to Sierra Leone. He said that PowerChina International was very interested in constructing the Lungi Bridge.
Mr. Song also said that the construction of the Lungi Bridge would be an honour for the company and delighted that President Bio was very determined to construct the bridge.
One major challenge for the construction of the Lungi Bridge is the financing aspect but Mr. Song assured President Bio that financing would be through off-balance sheet.
Also in attendance at the meeting was the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, who was very pleased with the proposed financing of the construction of the Lungi Bridge, saying that off-balance sheet is the most internationally acceptable mode of financing as that would not incur any debt to the Government.
Updating the President on the proposed project as the focal person, the Chief Minister, Professor David J. Francis, said that while the proposed construction of the facility was the key priority, yet the whole package of the project would include the expansion of the airport and creating an economic free zone.
The Chief Minister said constructing a bridge would mean increased traffic for flights and passengers which was why an expansion of the airport must go with the construction of the bridge.