Sierra Leone cancels controversial Chinese airport project

Maada-BioThe government of Sierra Leone has terminated all contract services with a Chinese construction firm for the construction of an airport.

Local media portals cited a letter from the aviation ministry which said it was “uneconomical to proceed with the construction of a new airport when the existing one is grossly underutilized.”

The proposed Mamamah International Airport was to be constructed by the China Railway Seventh Group. The $318m facility had a completion date of 2022 after it was launched in March 2018.

It was launched by erstwhile president Ernest Bai Koroma and at the time attracted huge criticism from international lending institutions. The project was also to entail the construction of a new city in the vicinity and an exclusive economic zone.

Upon assumption of office after winning a poll run-off, president Julius Maada Bio was said to have abandoned the project according to a local media report.

The current decision ties into concerns by critics back then who averred that the new airport was an unnecessary economic burden on the West African country.

China’s economic footprints are dotted across Africa and has been the subject of criticism. Critics hold that the Asian giant offers huge sums that become a burden on African governments.

Maada Bio was among African leaders who trooped to Beijing in early September for the Forum for China – Africa Cooperation. Beijing announced a new round of aid to the tune of $60m with all nations agreeing different levels of bilateral deals on the sidelines.