Notwithstanding warnings from the IMF and World Bank over the proposed construction of a stylized Mamamah Airport, government in the recent past has signed a $318 million deal with the Chinese for the project.
IMF and World Bank ‘s rejections of such a project was based on the grounds of its economic viability and of course things explaining cautious decision of government at a time of its imposition of expenditure rationalization measures owing to observed leakages and wastages.
It was a shocker on the international front that the APC government has gone ahead in signing an agreement with the Chinese EXIM Bank for a loan of $318 million to kick starts the said airport project.
Facts are that last year when the government was desperate in shoving the idea of constructing an airport at Mamamah on the people, its donor partners the likes of World Bank and IMF warned against such idea, making clear their positions that a country with a struggling economy cannot stand the test of time in doing a multimillion dollar project as such.
Initially, government pretended to have backed-off from the project, but lately saw senior officials travelling with a high powered delegation as led by the Minister of Transport Leonard Balogun Koroma, accompanied by officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Chief of Staff at State House to China, where incidentally they signed the loan agreement on the construction of the said airport.
At the moment, details about the loan agreement and construction of the airport are sketchy and many people are of the opinion the loan interests and repayment time could not be in the interest of tax payers who will bear the brunt of the economic burden attached to it.
People’s concerns are the financial burden such construction project has to Sierra Leone as a nation.
They say it is obvious same will end up just as the Waterloo Masiaka toll road, which is now seeing motorists paying toll fees for a road that is still under construction.
Many say the Balogun led airport construction agreement has raised serious suspicion, giving the fact that it was this same Minister that had championed the trumpeted multimillion dollar purchase of 100 buses that has brought no good to the nation.
And when questioned by parliament shortly after the purchased of the buses, he (Balogun) could neither defend reasons for the astronomical amount used to procure the buses nor provide details on the unit cost per bus and spare parts.
Political pundits have raised concern as to why a government that has less than one month in office had rushed into signing an agreement of such a magnitude without parliamentary scrutiny.
Economist Foday Bai Bangura said the amount involved in the airport loan agreement appeared to have been over bloated just it was done with the Wilkinson Road and other projects across the country.
He said overbloated project for kickbacks are no doubt a recipe for destruction.
Also, that it was the same carelessness with which the government handled the IMF loan agreement that led the country losing millions of dollars of support recently.
Meanwhile, President Koroma is expected to officially launch the much anticipated airport on Thursday 1st March and will also commission a private sector study of the New Koya City Aerotropolis Airport City and Economic Zone by Henan Guoji Industries and China Railway International Group of China.