President Ernest Bai Koroma has turned the sod for the construction of the Mamamah International Airport at Maboima village off Songo –Rotifunk in the Western Rural District, Koya Chiefdom, about 45 kilometres from the capital Freetown.
The March 1st, occasion attracted people from all walks of life, including the ten men delegation from the government of the People’s Republic of China, officials of the China Railway Seventh Group, the military, the media and local entertainers.
The first ever mainland air port will be constructed by China Railway Seventh Group at a cost in the region of 318 million US Dollars for phase 1 and 2, to be completed in 4 years. 200 million US Dollars have been secured from the China EXIM Bank as a concessional loan for Phase 1 to which the government of Sierra Leone should provide counterpart funding of 30 million US Dollars for land compensation and relocation of 38 communities within the project zone.
The project when completed would provide jobs to over 4, 000 Sierra Leoneans.
The Mamamah airport is a category 4E with 6 aprons, category 2 navigational wings with a modern state –of –the –art facility design. It has 3,500 meters runway, a fire station, duty free shopping centres, a modern well equipped control tower, jet bridges, presidential lounge, VIP lounge, extensive parking facility, underground fuelling, departure and arrival terminals and four carousels, 4 units of KVA generators with electricity capacity of 264 kilowatts to be connected to the national power grid, two taxi ways among other facilities.
Alhaji Alpha Abubakarr Sahid Kanu, the minister of information and communication said the epoch making event is key to the development milestones of the country as the second Freetown International airport comes exactly after a period of 71 years when the Freetown International airport was constructed in Lungi. He said President Koroma’s development trajectory had envisioned a transformational marshal plan to create a new Koya City to soon be completed Ernest Bai Koroma International Airport located in the heartland, suits the purpose of decongesting the current city.
The Freetown International airport located in the coastal town of Lungi is presently the only main airport in the sub-region. It is the airport across an estuary and takes longer to get to your final destination, in the words of Leonard Balogun Logus Koroma, minister of transport and aviation. Therefore he said: “Travel time from airport to hotel or home for Monrovia is 45 minutes to an hour, Conakry, 30 minutes, Lagos 50 minutes, Accra 30 minutes, Abidjan, Niamey, Bamako etc are all in the same category of between 30 to 45 minutes.
Lungi by the unnecessary combination of cars, boats, ferry and sometimes on foot, travel time from the airport to one’s final destination is anybody’s guess.”
Lugus said Lungi is getting congested and we need to build a new airport. As a nation we need to have at least two international airports as a matter of necessity. Beyond this fact, our strategic location, being equidistant to South America and beyond strategically positions us as a viable aviation hub not just for our region but the world over.
President Koroma outlined his development projects following the construction of the airport as he said to soon to declare Koya City with house, the next state house, modern judicial headquarters, parliament building, ministerial offices and residential block for government workers.
“Very soon as a way of decongesting the city, the new government that will succeed my administration would complete these development plans and the current Freetown would be preserved for tourism purposes with a description as the old city”.
He said he missed out on the opportunity to commission another milestone development project of the Freetown Terminal and Lungi Tagrin seafront bridge that would form a major interlink from Freetown to the coastal Port Loko business zone. He however called on Dr. Samura Kamara who he said would win the March 7 polls to go ahead with the launching of the project in the coming days after the elections.
President Koroma said events of the flash floods and mudslide disaster in August 2017 and the vulnerability of the coastal areas, hills and valleys are considered in underscoring the need to develop a new city to change the narrative once more for a New Koya City Aerotropolis.