Sierra Leone parliament ratifies Lungi airport expansion and seaport lease agreements


Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 May 2021:

Just twenty-four hours after announcing its out of court settlement of its ill-advised, long-drawn battle with iron ore mining Group – Gerald, costing the people of Sierra Leone millions of dollars in lost export revenue, the government of Sierra Leone is said to be taking comfort from yesterday’s ratification of two major economic development agreements by parliament.

Members of parliament yesterday debated and unanimously ratified amendment to an agreement signed by the government to expand the Lungi International Airport, as well as its agreement granting leasing rights to Kingho Railway for use of the seaport to transport iron ore from the country.

Presenting the Kingho Agreement to MPs, Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Timothy Kabba said that the Government stands to gain $2.5 Million from the port leasing agreement as well as other economic spinoffs.

Chairman of the Committee for Mines and Leader of the opposition C4C party,  Saa Emerson Lamina described the Agreement as “detailed”, adding it could help boost the economy. He said that other mining companies operating in the subregion would benefit from the services of the rail and port lease agreement.

Abdul Karim Kamara MP praised the Mines Minister for successfully negotiating an out-of-court settlement with SL Mining Company which he said is a welcome news to the people of Sierra Leone.

Abdul Kargbo MP, said he worked for African Minerals Limited as an Engineer, adding that directly or indirectly Sierra Leoneans benefited from that investment. He criticised the government for suspending mining operations – a decision that has badly impacted on the economy but commended the Mines Minister for trying to revitalize the mining sector once again.

Leader of the Opposition – Chernor Bah MP, thanked the Minister for bringing the Agreement to Parliament for ratification. Speaking on the need to follow procedures before implementation of Agreements, he spoke about the huge investments made over the years by mining companies on the railway infrastructure from Ferengbeya to Pepel, under the supervision of the Government of Sierra Leone. He emphasized that “agreements must be followed through before the start of mining operations”.

Concluding the debate, Leader of Government Business, Mathew Sahr Nyuma MP said the government is into changing the narrative by removing monopoly and allowing other mining companies to invest in the operations of the railway.

Members of parliament also debated and ratified amendments relating to the build-operate-transfer agreement for the construction, financing, and concession of the expansion of the Freetown International Airport.  The Agreement is between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Russian owned SUMMA Airports Sierra Leone Limited.

Presenting the Agreement to MPs, Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Rex Bhonopha spoke about the importance of the parliamentary amendment to remove ambiguities in the agreement.

Acting Leader of the Opposition, Ibrahim Ben Kargbo MP called for a speedy conclusion of the Airport expansion project and described SUMMA as a “trusted” company in this regard.