By Abdul A. Kargbo
We as a people don’t cease to amaze ourselves with our thought processes. When the other guys wanted to build a new airport for $300,000,000 to solve the same problem the lungi bridge is intended for we decried and kicked against it, we say it was too expensive and complained that the country is too broke therefore, can not afford to accrue any more debt.
Fast forward a year later, we the same people are jubilating for a project that is far more costly and seven times more to solve the same problem. The underlying questions we need to ask ourselves are that how many people owned cars in Sierra Leone? How many of us with cars that must cross the bridge due to work, medical, entertainments or business dealings per day?
Apart from the airport what other businesses or attractions that are in lungi that will cause people to cross over from Freetown to lungi daily or perhaps every weekend or every month? On the flip side how many people in lungi with jobs in Freetown that owns their own private cars? How many flights per day lands at lungi international airport? How many vehicles are going to ply the bridge per day considering most people use public transportation in Sierra Leone?
Even when Sierra Leone was enjoying her status as the most peaceful country in Africa, she received 58,000 tourists in 2017, the highest number since the end of the civil war in 2002.That number plummeted drastically in 2018 according to the minister of tourism during the one year commemoration of the Bio presidency on April 4, 2019. According to her we had 34,000 visitors and I believe most of them are Sierra Leoneans in diaspora who visits home.
Now that we have slipped 38 places in the Global Peace Index I wonder how many tourists will visit Sierra Leone apart from Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora. With the recent spike of violence, rape, intolerance, murder, tensions and political instability, I wonder how many more places down we will drop in the next Global Peace Index coming in 2020.These things matters if we hope to be a tourist destination in the future and without the tourism industry booming in Sierra Leone the lungi bridge will be a total waste.
Notwithstanding, the USA and UK have issued travel advisory to their citizens about travelling to Sierra Leone. How many tourists per year do we expect in Sierra Leone with the present political climate? We can pretend all we like that there are no tensions in Sierra Leone but we all know that we have a government that is not a respecter of citizens rights and the constitution. It is becoming clearer by the day that the more repressive they become the more citizens are prepared to stand up for their rights and the more government responds with lethal force.
At the end these bloody violence and skirmishes makes the international news and the images of these violence are posted on social media and other news outlets. So my point here is after investing two bullion dollars to construct the almighty lungi bridge how much are you going to charge motorists for toll fare? Could we not have use half of this colossal amount to build a new airport and a new Capital City around it? We could solve the congestion in Freetown by moving the seat of power to Mamamah.The other half of that money we could invest in massive agriculture to solve the bread and butter issues they promised the people and build modern hospitals. We don’t need to travel overseas for medical treatments.
Call me what you may but I don’t believe anything that comes out of this administration. I think they are trying to divert people’s attention from their lackadaisical performance with the economy. This sounds like another white elephant project to me. Sounds too good to be true.