SIERRA LEONE, Freetown – The final key component for the New Airport at Lungi, Jet Bridges, have arrived in Freetown.
Rex Bhonapha, the Deputy Transport and Aviation Minister and Dr. John E. Tambi, head of the Office of Presidential Infrastructure Initiative (OPII), and Ibrahim Sheriff, the Country Director of Summa Company, on Friday, 14th October received 8 massive streel elevated passageways on the Seville vessel berthed on Queen Elizabeth II quay in Cline Town.
According to the Deputy, “this is a novelty, because this is the first time we are having Jet bridges.” He said “these type of bridges are not the type that vehicle uses, rather, it is an enclosed movable connector which most commonly extends from an airport terminal gate to an airplane, allowing passengers to board and disembark without going outside and being exposed to harsh weather.
This new Airport he said, “is going to give us the requisite visibility as a country. This is the first time we are going to have something that would attract other investors, other private sector investors to invest in the new International Airport. For the first time, we are going to have the best International Airport within the sub region”
“For the first time, Sierra Leoneans are going to be using escalators to access their boarding gates and we are going to have four different boarding gates, unlike what we have now; which means, when people are travelling out of this country, they have to queue in a single file, which is old and archaic”.
“We are having something modern; something that can compete internationally, that’s what this new airport is all about”
He also added that “for the first time, we have been audacious enough to establish a certification process which has moved our old international airport from red to amber. However with this new International Airport, we are expecting International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) International Certification by December”.
He explained that this is going to attract ore flights coming to Sierra Leone which is going to create job opportunities for Sierra Leoneans.
The Deputy Minister disclosed that more equipment is expected. However, he assured that 75% of the airport has been complete and that the Summa Group that would be operating the International Airport would take full responsibility at the end of October and by February next year, the President will officially open the new International airport.
According to Dr. John E. Tambi, the Build Operate and Transfer model is the best approach for major infrastructural development given the existing economic situation globally.
This is why the contractor “Summa is going to operate the airport for 25years hoping to recoup their money”
He added that international airports are the gateway into any country, however, our existing International airport is nothing to write home about. “We are going to change the face of this nation and we are starting with the gateway…” he said.
ibrahim Sheriff assured all that by December they would have completed the project. This is because “the President has given us a very tight schedule because he wants Sierra Leone to have a state-of-the-art airport that would compete with other airports globally.”