By Hassan Bruz
Northern Bureau Chief
Sierra Leoneans have often been urged by one Presidents or Heads of State after another to re-brand their pattern of thinking if the Country should attain the desired row of honor with regards development. Some Heads of Government had even gone a step further by stressing that Sierra Leoneans must ‘think big’ in order to be at par with the developed World or some of the developing States in African. Interestingly enough, most Nationals tend to neglect this clarion call as soon as they are placed in positions of trust. What is of a common practice out here is the maddening rush for personal wealth. People are only concern about how to enrich themselves. It is in the event of enriching themselves that they either deliberately or unknowingly sublet their integrity to corrupt practices which is becoming an enviable way of life in the Country.
As it is often the case, there are some Sierra Leoneans who would prefer to leave behind a legacy at any opportunity provided to them than amassing wealth at the detriment of National Development. The Newly appointed General Manager at the Sierra Leone Airport Authority – Ebenezer W. A Macauley is unquestionably one of such individuals. He seems very much determined to propel the Freetown Airport to International Standards in spite of the inherited and prevailing odds. His Management has therefore set out a list of prioritized Projects geared towards en-kindling the confidence of both Users of the facility and Partners in development. The desire of Mr. Macauley is to enhance safety at the Airport and upgrade its security ranking for it to be Certified for bigger Aircrafts . It is in this vane that the construction of an ‘Emergency Operating Hub’ for the handling of emergency cases at the Airport is being made prominent. This will further necessitate the procurement of a New Fire Engine together with a Sea Rescue Boat to match up with the required standards for category 9 which guarantees the safety of bigger bodied Aircrafts. He said the Rescue Fire-fighters have already been trained.
The Newly appointed General Manager who made the disclosure in an interview with the Sierra Leone News Agency, said Management intends to develop a Master Plan for the Freetown International Airport that would have a duration for up to 15 years. The aim is for it to serve as a guide for the development of the Airport and would be in accordance with Standard Procedures recommended by the Civil Aviation Organisation. Mr. Ebenezer W. A Macauley explained how this will give room for the construction of a New Airport Terminal Building, Expand the Runway at the Lungi Airport and Rehabilitate the one at Hastings Airfield. He said his Management is desirous to recommence domestic operations at the Hastings Airfield without further delay. He went further to highlight how his Management would like to have an up-to-date Airport Hotel, In-flight Catering Service and a 24 hour Electricity Service at the Freetown International Airport. He however noted that these are Capital Intensive Projects and that funding remains an enormous challenge.
Thus, the General Manager singled out the issue of Land Encroachment at the Lungi and Hastings Airport Perimeters while outlining what stands to weigh down his high – dreams. He said a vast portion of the land has been occupied by squatters and would hamper the infrastructural development slated to commence shortly. The incapability to provide electricity supply on a 24 hour basis at the Airport, provide In-flight Catering, foster Public/Private Partnership, and reduce the cost of Airline Tickets are some of the challenges faced by Management. He therefore appeals for the intervention of Government in the eviction of those that have encroached on the Airport Lands. Mr. Macauley said he would be grateful if Government could as well prevail on EDSA for the provision of a 24 hour Electricity Supply, assist Management to regain monies owned to it by certain Airlines that have fled the Country after obtaining some debts. He ended with a special in which he said, Government should ensure that Airlines reduce their Charges to attract more Customers.
Below are some Photos obtained at the Freetown International Airport including that of the newly appointed General Manager – Mr. Ebenezer Macauley……