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Walking in the Bridge From Freetown to Lungi 

By Abdul Hassan Fackie,

Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Since President Julius Maada Bio launched the bidding process for the construction of an eight kilometer (about five miles) on Monday, 24 June, 2019, a lively debate has been sparked and strenuously sustained by different schools of thought.

As far as the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) Government is concerted, the construction of the bridge is very necessary and timely for the people of Sierra Leone as it will not only easy travel from the capital Freetown to Lungi where the national airport is situated but it will also create thousands of jobs for young men and women and also stimulate business activities for the people of the north, north western and western regions.

They further point out that the bridge will also stimulate the expansion of the Lungi township into the status of a city which will in turn attract tens of hundreds of thousands of Freetown dwellers to relocate to Lungi and nearby settlements thereby decongesting an over populated city. 

It is also their argument that in the twenty first century Sierra Leone must be seen to be catching up with the infrastructural and technological advancement and be in sync nations of the world. 

They stress that the bridge which will cost about two billion one hundred million Dollars ($2.2 B) is not going to cost Sierra Leone any money as it is going to be funded by the contractors who will then manage it for anytime close to thirty years, recoup their investment, make their profit and then hand it over to us. They also predict that unlike the toll road left behind by the APC which is adding to the hardship of the people, the toll on the bridge will be people friendly. They also say that they bridge has a lifespan of one hundred years before needing maintenance. 

They also note that the bridge is going to serve a better purpose than the airport that the APC wanted to build at Mamammah for four hundred million Dollars ($400 m) when the country already has an airport of international standard.

When one listens to the argument of the Government, you are convinced that Sierra Leone needs the bridge. 

But the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) has been very angry and outrightly condemned the construction of the bridge at this time when they point out that the country could have diverted such a huge debt to large scale agricultural, fishery and animal husbandry activities, to creating skills training centres for the idle young men and women roaming the streets of the country causing havoc, and to providing other social amenities in deprived communities across the country.

They say that they are also apprehensive of the amount of toll that will charged on computers, whose fallout will be to add more hardship on the people. 

They defend the toll road they left behind which people say is adding to their economic woes and will take twenty seven years for the Chinese contractors to recoup their investment and hand it over to Sierra Leone. They also maintain that the Mamammah airport would have created thousands of jobs for Sierra Leoneans, create a new city and decongested most big towns and cities and attracted more planes to choose Sierra Leone as part of their route.

Even as the arguments continue to rage, the bidding process is on and already multi national companies in China, Europe and America have shown interest to do the bridge whose construction is projected to start in September this year and last between four to six years.