• January 27, 2023


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Celebrations by members and supporters of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) for what they consider as a “new airport” that has been constructed by the administration of President Julius Maada Bio is done just to make a song and dance about the extension in order to titivate the fallacy of having built a new airport.However, those celebrants must be given a cautionary tap on their shoulders to know that what they have been told about that work is untrue and that the facility is an airline terminal not an airport.

The Government of Sierra Leone through the Line Ministry of Aviation reportedly signed a twenty-five-year lease agreement with a Turkish company SUMMA Group to undertake renovation and rehabilitation works at the Freetown International Airport. A deal born out of President Bio’s several wasteful visits to his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. A Turkish airline terminal which comes in on the eve of the elections, is being largely considered as a calculated ploy by the SLPP-led government to woo votes from gullible Sierra Leoneans.

What is put on display at the Freetown International Airport in Lungi, is a mere refurbished terminal for the landing and take-off of Turkish airline flights. Period! And the widely spread rumours with pictures of the facility by ardent SLPP supporters and their social media handlers is deceitful, and it is not worthy of celebration by Sierra Leoneans at all. Though it sounds pretty much a good idea to have the likes of Turkish airline shuttles to Freetown, yet that does not mean that people should be deceived into lies that a new airport has been built at the same location where there is already the Freetown International Airport at Lungi. Such lies are completely unacceptable. Airports are far different from airline terminals. Terminals are meant for landings and taking-offs of flights, whereas airports are the actual hosts of airline terminals. And as such the Freetown International Airport, being of high standards since Adam and Eve, is capable enough of having several airline terminals to be efficiently aiding frequent flight shuttles as it has already been done for the landings and take-offs of the Turkish Airline. So, there is no need for people to be jumping here and there and floating on air for a renovated airline terminal, except if certain ruling SLPP loyalists want to tell the world over that they have never seen an airline terminal before. We leave them in their deliberate ignorance and individual low levels of public exposures to morality as against the sad effects of lies and myths by a whole government and its followers.

As per international best practices and set standards in the aviation industry, airline operators across the globe are expected to have their own terminals for the landings and take-offs of their flights, rather than waiting for take-offs or landings of their counterparts, which most celebrants of the renovated Turkish airline terminal are not aware of. And are not even curious to know about such development in the aviation industry. Instead, they are busy receiving lies hook line and sinker from the failed Bio-led SLPP administration. A failed regime that is desperately wooing votes everywhere just to secure second term mandate it didn’t work for but aims at using the refurbished airport and the free education scheme to lace the SLPP and Bio’s presidential campaign message to electorate for consideration for re-elected for another five years.

Moreover, celebrations for an airline terminal clearly at a time like this tells the facts that Sierra Leoneans do not still know exactly what they want from their political leaders, which is why the country’s developmental needs and aspirations have hardly been met in the last five years of the Bio misrule; hence the urgent need to a formidable replacement of leadership failures with a result-oriented leader.

According to the State House website news report: https://statehouse.gov.sl/sierra-leones-president-julius-maada-bio-inspects-ongoing-construction-of-the-new-lungi-international-airport/ the official presidential portal, Bio on 12th November 2020 inspected the Two Hundred and Seventy Million United States Dollars ($170M) renovation project meant to extend the facility for the operations of the Turkish airline terminal, following commencement of works in 2020 by the SUMMA Group. No need to delve into the fallacies of the facility’s capacity of accommodating one million passengers. Therefore, all what traditional and social media reports state about the Turkish government funded SUMMA Group new airport at the Freetown International Airport in Sierra Leone is untrue; it is very much misleading and not anything to go by, as the facility is a terminal for the landing and take-off just for a single airline.

So, it is advisable that the Bio administration stop hoodwinking the people.

Pro-government and SLPP supporters and celebrants of the so-called new airport should therefore stop misleading themselves over the lies, myth and canard that the country has got a new airport.

According to the Chairman of Office of the Presidential Infrastructure Initiatives, Dr John Tambi during the presidential inspection of works in 2020, the SUMMA Group did the project to expand the capacity of the airport (FREETOWN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT) to an estimated 13,200 square miles from the current 7,200 square miles. It is therefore not really a new airport as it is being erroneously reported by both SLPP traditional and social media handlers. But this fallacy will not go infinitum, on the eve of the June 24th multitier elections, they would begin to really sense that all their acts and reports of hoodwinking the people to their plans are just castles in the air.

The lies and deceptions emerged shortly after the cancelation of the construction of the proposed Mamamah airport on the mainland, few miles from Freetown in 2018, by the Bio administration, on grounds that having an airport of that nature would be a burden on government, whereas others believe that it would have been huge blessings for businesses, trade and investment boom in the country, had it not been stalled by the incumbent.

Extremely baffling is the fact that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund joined the Bio-led SLPP administration in quickly condemning the proposed $400M Mamamah airport project on the pretext that it “would impose a heavy debt burden on government”.

However, low minded and less developmentally ambitious Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon, told the BBC that the Mamamah airport project, which was scheduled to have been fully completed in 2022, was “unnecessary”. He said that they would rather renovate the Freetown International Airport as part of the extension project for the landings and take-offs of Turkish airline flights. All in furtherance to completely ignore the proposed Mamamah airport, which they succeeded in doing in fulfilment of their few selfish desires, as against the developmental wishes and aspirations of the greater Sierra Leoneans majority, who know what standard airports are, compared to the extended Turkish airline terminal by the SUMMA Group.

Are these the set of leaders Sierra Leoneans want to re-elect to public offices, especially to the presidency of a nation that needs so much to be done in terms of development? Certainly no! And the people indeed believe that enough is enough, and Bio and his cabal of political jokers must fold up and give space to a sober Sierra Leonean with the requisite capacity and experience to provide the country with the needful leadership come 24 June this year, or whenever the elections are held.

The cancellation of the airport, however, didn’t affect Sierra Leone-China relations; in fact, the relations have been reaffirmed by the former Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone Wu Peng. And the Government of the People’s Republic of China continues with strong consolidation of ties with Sierra Leone in diverse ways.

As a matter of fact, Bio during his short remarks to the people of Lungi and the Kafu Bullom community never called the extended terminal facility an airport. Rather he instead thanked the community for hosting the extension project at the existing Freetown International Airport, which he said is geared towards beautifying the country to attract foreign direct investments.

Why for God’s sake overzealous SLPP members and their supporters are now calling the extended Turkish airline terminal a new airport? Government should therefore make haste to do the necessary clarifications and officially call things by their right names and laying misinformation about the whole work to rest. Airport and an airline are two different facilities with separate functions.

The fact that so many people have seen airports and terminals in different parts of the world, there is no need for the ruling party followers and the government to be calling the Turkish airline terminal a new airport.

It’s fake news because even the SUMMA Group has never called it an airport; so stop the misleading political witticisms designed to fool blind SLPP and Bio supporters. Sierra Leoneans deserve more than a renovated airline terminal.

And take a quick look at a $300M international airport done at Kumasi in Ghana before you continue to call your refurbished terminal a new airport. Shame on the Bio-led SLPP administration for stopping the Mamamah airport project and for its failure to build a brand new one, while quick access to Freetown remains much difficult for travellers!

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