WORK PROGRESS AT MAMAMAH AIRPORT PROJECT
Freetown International Airport Project (FIAP) Project Implementation Unit (PIU) Ministry of Transport and Aviation
The New Freetown International Airport Project is the Brain child of His Excellence the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to open Sierra Leone for business, tourism, direct foreign investment and a regional aviation hub (West Africa); in the likes of Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa. Sierra Leone’s mineral wealth will yield geometric dividend only when the country’s potential is show-cased to the world business investors. Bearing in mind the very competitive investment climate of today’s global village, our economy is dependent on our ability to attract investment as a driver for economic growth. The project is conceived with the knowledge of our (GDP) exponential economic growth in double digits (before Ebola) and the need to create room for an improved driver for economic growth in industrial, manufacturing and agri-business. In order to stimulate further investment opportunities without hindrance in the absorptive capacity of our infrastructural viability; a new airport became necessary to attract much needed investments to put us at a level befitting a country rated as amongst the world’s hottest economies – again before Ebola penetrated our borders plundering everything that the Agenda for Prosperity and its precursor, the Agenda for Change had painstakingly put together literally block by block.
TRANSPORT AND AVIATION MINISTER LOGUS KOROMA
The good news is the Mamamah Airport project is on track in spite of the epidemic menace we are faced with in our project affected area of Koya Chiefdom in the Port Loko district. The scourge of Ebola has threatened that community and is thus been included under quarantine following in the footsteps of Kailahun, Kenema and Bombali. Nonetheless the project is on course and pursuing its project benchmarks that will deliver a state of the art international airport in 4 years. Our Chinese partners are wholeheartedly committed to the construction of the airport. With the unwavering support of government as we speak have demarcated three key areas for the settlement of relocated communities from our 21000 sq ft Red Zone dedicated to the Airport and its allied facilities. This Red Zone lies within a five mile radius project affected site encompassing an Airport Development Zone (ADZ). The ADZ will be the epicenter of all aviation related service industry ranging from hotels, conference halls, car parks, security installations, entertainment facilities, hotel service industry.
About a thousand homes will be built in these three new locations just outside our five miles Airport Development Zone (ADZ) perimeter. These homes of two bed, three bed and four bed each in a three town lot space will house our relocated project affected families who currently live and work within our much needed airport zone. The construction of the airport starts with the planning and demarcation of these homes and subsequent construction soonest. This will enable us to speedily start actual construction work on the airport itself. To enable us to assess the number of households in our project area, we conducted a demographic survey of the 63 villages within the Mamamah axis to do a head count of properties and population density; as well as the occupational livelihoods of communities in the area. This will help us compensate families and households due for relocation according to their size and specific needs.
The contractors are mobilizing their equipment and heavy machinery while the metrological data machinery which has been on the airport site for months is recording the weather conditions specific to that area. This is paramount in the determination of the runway orientation. Our consultant engineer is working in collaboration with the Metrological Department; whose experts are collecting and collating data on a regular basis for analysis. Meanwhile the China Exim Bank is in constant engagement with the Ministry of Finance to expedite the loan agreement according to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the government of Sierra Leone and the Peoples Republic of China.
The Project Implementation Unit is in continual engagement with the project affected communities for a smooth relocation packaged to be mapped out for the village communities within our project site. In this process all community stake holders including the Paramount Chief, section chiefs of the 19 sections of Koya Chiefdom and their local headmen are part of our regular community outreach. We have conducted several community awareness programs on the relocation process. Both the host communities and those due for relocation have been engaged for better understanding and resolution of any outstanding issues prior to relocation. Three major settlements will be built to accommodate all the project affected communities and villages. The three sections encompass a North, South and West Section which will cluster our relocated communities; with all facilities that currently exist in their communities will be replicated with modern building materials and cement structures erected with zinc roofing to last longer than their original structures in their village communities.
Since the outbreak of Ebola virus disease, the PIU has been actively engaged with community leaders in raising awareness about the prevention of the spread of the disease within our locality. All our community meetings have been centered on the prevention of the spread of the disease. And quite recently we organized a mammoth meeting of village communities in our project affected area and presented materials useful in the prevention of the Ebola virus disease.
The project construction will be officially launched by His Excellency the President in due course as we piece together all construction loose ends and data collection currently taking place at the airport sites
Jarrah Kawusu-Konte…PPa Santhikie Bangura…..