Lungi International Airport, Sierra Leone – Madam Kenyeh Barlay, the recently appointed Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), along with ECOWAS Resident Representative Ambassador Haroun Moussa, visited the ECOWAS Military Logistics Depot in Lungi on August 16, 2023.
The purpose of the visit was to assess the progress of work in anticipation of the newly agreed-upon deadline of November 30th, 2023.
The Lungi Logistics Depot is one of two approved ECOWAS Military facilities, with the other located in Mali. These facilities aim to enhance regional security, peace, stability, and response capabilities. They will facilitate joint military operations, stockpile resources, and enable the rapid deployment of ECOWAS Standby Forces (ESF) in the event of regional crises or conflicts.
During the visit, a comprehensive inspection and assessment of sites one and two were conducted, led by the contracting firms SOGEFEL Construction and BANCA Consultant. This assessment was supported by the resident Commandant Col. Dr. Bala Mohamed and his deputy Lieut. Col. Abu Bakar Konneh, aimed to identify progress, challenges, and necessary actions to meet the impending deadline.
Following the assessment, a debriefing session was chaired by Col. Dr. Bala Mohamed, during which the Minister was welcomed and congratulated on her new role and highlighted the successful, free, and peaceful elections in Sierra Leone. The Minister also emphasized the importance of the project in enhancing regional capabilities.
Col. Dr. Bala Mohamed acknowledged the project’s progression through phases 2 and 3, Conveying appreciation for the continued government support and acknowledging the enhancement of competence and capability within MoPED through the appointment of Minister Barclay.
He praised the contractors and consulting firms for their remarkable efforts. Challenges and delays were acknowledged, particularly in the project’s completion, and concerns were raised about the readiness of the ESF members awaiting deployment at the depot.
Representatives from SOGEFEL and BANCA Consulting presented the project’s current status, indicating 93.71% completion despite encountering challenges.
The Minister was assured that the project would be finalized by the agreed-upon date. The remaining tasks involve drainage and roadway construction within the project areas, along with addressing specific structural elements.
Sumanu O. Z. Alghali, Head of ECOWAS National Office, Sierra Leone, expressed urgency in utilizing the facility and disappointment over delays. He urged for an accelerated pace while commending the team’s efforts.
Peter N. Sam-Kpakra, Development Secretary at MoPED, commended the contractors but expressed reservations about meeting the deadline amid the ongoing rainy season.
He also addressed the matter of the additional land (site 2 seafront) that is to be transferred to the Commission, emphasizing the importance of proper resettlement of existing structures on that land before full handover.
He advised considering an additional workforce to overcome weather challenges and expedite progress.
Ambassador Harouna Moussa, ECOWAS Resident Representative, congratulated Minister Barlay and called for weekly monitoring and follow-ups to address delays.
He mentioned the ECOWAS Commission President’s expectation of depot completion by the next Heads of State session.
Minister Kenyeh Barlay, representing the President and People of Sierra Leone, praised ECOWAS for the opportunity to host such a significant regional project.
She highlighted the project’s alignment with the government’s Big Five Game Changers priorities and emphasized incorporating an agricultural component, similar to the Mali depot. She lauded the utilization of advanced technology, health facilities, and local skilled labor.
She assured her commitment to involve her fellow ministers who are involved in the project, particularly the Minister of Lands, to offer the necessary support. This pertains to the commission’s supplementary request for seafront land at site 2.
The Minister urged the construction team to expedite progress and assured full support from her office.