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Ministers of Finance &Transport in Beijing

Ministers of Finance &Transport in Beijing

Sierra Leone Ministers of Finance and Economic Development and Transport and Aviation, Dr. Keifala Marah and Leonard Balogun Koroma, respectively on 17th December, arrived in the People’s Republic of China to hold further discussions with EXIM Bank of China and China Railway International on the construction of the Mamamah International Airport Project and the Hunan Rice and rubber agricultural project.

The Export and Import Bank of China-(EXIM Bank), is the world’s third largest export credit agency, with a mandate to “implement state policies in industry, foreign trade and economy, finance and foreign affairs”. The vast majority of infrastructure financing arrangements done by China in Africa are financed through EXIM Bank.   China Railway International Co., Ltd (CRI) is a subsidiary of China Railway Group Limited (CREC), a super-large integrated construction group that covers survey and design, construction and installation industrial manufacturing and other business. CRI has been contracted for the constructionmof the new airport at Mamamah,in the Port Loko district.

During their visit, they also held discussions with China EXIM Bank; and with China Kingho Industries on the proposed Deep Sea Port and Railway projects in Sierra Leone; and with China Poly Group industries and Zhong Tong Bus Company on a package to supply buses to boost public transportation in Sierra Leone.

Discussions also included the rehabilitation and equipping of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation Garage/Workshop; the supply of well equipped mobile workshops to repair buses broken down on roads and highways; the establishment of a well equipped spare parts shop at the Corporation; and the rehabilitation and re – establishment of a functional training centre to train drivers and mechanics.

On Tuesday 17th December, the Minister of Transport and Aviation and team travelled to Shandon Province in China where they were taken on a 2 hours conducted tour of the Zhong Tong bus complex, factory and production line. The Zhong Tong bus company is presently the second largest in China. With the completion of its ongoing construction of a 500 million United States Dollars factory complex, the company will graduate to become the largest in the whole of China. Presently it produces over 100 brands, including Toyota Coaster passenger buses and exports their products to over 75 countries in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.

On Wednesday 18th December, the Ministers of Finance and Economic Development and Transport and Aviation, together with Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh and other members of the delegation held a very successful meeting with the President of the Export- Import Bank of China, Li Ruogu   on several projects the Bank is financing in Sierra Leone. Li Ruogu   conveyed greetings to His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma and recalled the two meetings he has had with President Koroma to discuss developmental projects for Sierra Leone.

The construction of the new airport is a top priority project for the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma. The new airport will help in bringing about economic growth for Sierra Leone, with work expected to start by early 2014.

During an interview with the Press/Inmformation Office of the Sierra Leone Embassy DURING THE month of  November,  Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister,Dr Samura Kamara disclosed, that the original airport project was designed along a financing package of 200 million dollars but on the intervention of Government, the wish of President Koroma is for the country to do a modern airport that will stand the test of time; an airport that will be able to accommodate Sierra Leone’s potential for heavy air traffic, given her  strategic location in linking up with Latin America, Southern Africa, Europe and certainly East Africa, Central Africa and North Africa.

“The cost went up to 300 million dollars to the extent that there is already an indicative cap on the initial cost of the airport.” Dr Samura Kamara also informed, “what the President of the EXIM Bank advised was that we look at his concessional preferential window so that we have a blend; that is a mix of both concessional and non concessional and they are ready to stand by us so that we get this financing as quickly as possible to be able to commence the project before the end of the year”

The Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon Logus Koroma since his appointment has been vigorously pursuing major development components in his ministry, including the railway and airport projects.  He is accompanied to China by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Aviation, Mr. Sahr Kpulum, the General Manager, Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority, Mr. Bockarie Lewis Kamara, the Mamamah Airport Project Director, Mr. Morlai Buya Kamara amongst others.

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