AMBASSADORS BOCKARIE FOH (RIGHT) AND JARJAR KAMARA
Ambassadors of Sierra Leone and Liberia to the People’s Republic of China, His Excellencies Victor Bockarie Foh and Jarjar Kamara respectively have called for closer collaboration to achieve development aspirations of their respective countries in the Mano River Union (MRU) Sub Region.
This call was made on Wednesday, 19th February during a courtesy call on His Excellency Victor Bockarie Foh by Liberia’s Ambassador to China, Ambassador Jarjar Kamara at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing. During their discussion, specific references were made to an Economic Free Zone Project the MRU countries are pushing for, known as the Makona River Free Zone Development Project.
Ambassador Jarjar Kamara said that Sierra Leone and Liberia are inseparable given the close links and similarities in culture, geographic climate, people and their languages. “Both countries are inseparable .No matter what happens, we are one and the same people. Sierra Leone and Liberia are the same country, same people and same language”, Ambassador Kamara added.
Dilating on the decision by President Ernest Bai Koroma to appoint His Excellency Victor Bockarie Foh as Ambassador to China, Ambassador Kamara said, with the caliber and experience of Ambassador Foh in Politics and Governance “to be appointed by your President, His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma as Ambassador to China is absolutely a welcome news” As Liberia’s Ambassador to China, he said, “I will be happy to learn from you given your rich experience”. With your political acumen, we would be able to consult with you and ask you questions on the way forward”
Speaking specifically on the need for collaboration, Ambassador Kamara said, the leaders of Sierra Leone and Liberia are working closely together and with this kind of understanding, “and as Ambassadors representing them and our countries in the People’s Republic of China, we are supposed to share ideas and see how we could collaborate to carry development projects to our countries in the Mano River Union.”
The Free Zone Project, he said is a big development project for all of MRU countries and it benefits not just Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, but the rest of ECOWAS.
He commended Sierra Leone and China for the excellent diplomatic and people-to-people ties, saying “the cooperation between Sierra Leone and China has been good and unbroken” and he expressed optimism that with the presence of Ambassador Foh who has a wealth of experience, “this excellent relationship will continue to grow”
Responding, His Excellency Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh said, it was an honor to welcome his Liberian counterpart into Sierra Leone’s territory in China also underscoring the cordial coexistence between the people of the two countries. Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh paid glowing tribute to the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, a woman, he said, he admires greatly
Responding to the issue of Sub-Regional cooperation especially the Makona River Free Zone Development Project, envoy Victor Bockarie Foh said, “Sub Regional cooperation is the way forward for rapid development.”
With this project, Ambassador Foh said, there will be a Multi-Purpose Seaport in Sulima, which is just next door to Liberia and will serve Guinea and countries beyond MRU. “It would be a multi-facility port to give transportation facilities to our mining industries and also for normal commercial purposes,” amongst others.
The Makona River Sulima Port, he went on, will not only serve the iron ore industries in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but will also serve the Potential Oil industry and local people of the Sub Region
Through the Makona River Free Zone Development Project, Ambassador Foh said “a Railway will be built from Sulima in Sierra Leone to Guekedou in Guinea and then extend into Voinjama in Liberia. This Railway will form the foundation for a Trans- West African Railroad which could be linked to the Potential African Continental Railway System.
President Ernest Bai Koroma, he said, has been providing good leadership for the Free Zone Project, as agreed by the Presidents of Liberia and Guinea. “By letters issued by the three Presidents, it is agreed that the project is viable and that they would work together to ensure that it succeeds”, said Ambassador Foh
On bilateral relationship between China and Sierra Leone, Ambassador Foh reiterated to his Liberian counterpart that both countries have had cordial and unbroken relations for 43 years, saying “…everywhere you go in our country today, it has become a Works’ Yard promoted largely by China. Our roads, water resources and energy, the Chinese are helping us and for that I am always grateful and Sierra Leone will continue to stand side by side with China and to work with them . As a country, Sierra Leone believes in the ‘One China’ policy’…”
The Makona River Free Zone Project is based on the thriving cross-border transnational market trading and peaceful co-existence between the communities of Guekedou in Guinea, Koindu in Sierra Leone and Lofa County in Liberia.
The Beijing based Blue Sea Front (BSF) Group of Companies continues to engage the MRU countries for this Project. Three Mano River Union Ambassadors in China (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) are working concurrently to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for this Project, which will then be presented by Ambassador Foh to the MRU Secretariat in Freetown and to President Ernest Bai Koroma, who is Chairman for this Sub Regional Project for further discussions at their level as Heads of State.
In 2012, a US$ 20 billion credit facility was extended to African countries by the Chinese Government. China is believed to be supporting Regional and Sub-Regional projects and MRU Ambassadors in China are working assiduously for the Free Zone Project to benefit from Chinese Government and Private support.
John Baimba Sesay
Sierra Leone Embassy
People’s Republic of China