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Salone to host 10,000 ECOWAS force

Salone to host 10,000 ECOWAS force

Briefing journalists yesterday at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development on George Street in Freetown, Vice President of the Economic community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), Mr. Jean de Diew Somba, disclosed that after more than 30 years existence, ECOWAS has thought it prudent to have a standby force of 10,000 personnel to be housed at a terminal to be constructed by a Chinese company, CMAC Engineering Co. Limited, at the Lungi International Airport that would have an ultra-modern presidential lounge.

He asserted that Lungi is the most ideal site compared to Hastings, the previous site, due to its strategic location and improved runway revealing that the project, which would be of international standard, would last for between 18-24 months.

The ECOWAS Vice President articulated that the standby force would be a plus to Sierra Leone as it would enhance security within the sub region as well as promote democracy enlightening that the standby force would be completely different from the force deployed at Lungi during the country’s civil war.

He went on to reveal that ECOWAS now has a commission with a four year plan consisting of mid and long-terms and continued that ECOWAS is providing a grant of $2 million (two million dollars) to help fast-track the project as well as build the capacity of the country.

According Jean de Diew Somba, such move would provide employment opportunities and eventually boost the local economy observing, “I am impressed with the pace of development I have seen in Sierra Leone despite the fact that it is emerging from a war and ECOWAS made no mistake in selecting this country to host such a force as it is very strategic with a wonderful landscape and potential for tourism.”

Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development 11, Dr. Richard Conteh, earlier revealed that the ECOWAS Vice President is leading a 3-man delegation of the Chinese Company for the implementation of a range of projects like the Bumbuna Phase 11 hydro-electric dam project, the Orugu and Bikonkoh Dams as well as agricultural projects that include the development of up to 40,000-60,000 hectares of rubber plantation that is highly in demand internationally underlining that ECOWAS is the moral guarantor between Sierra Leone and Chinese Company, EMAC Engineering Co. Ltd.

The 10,000 standby forces will be drawn from ECOWAS member countries and will be ready for deployment at short notice and as the Deputy Minister reiterated, “ECOWAS is taking advantage of the economic cooperation between member states.” Hu Wei, Assistant president, China CMAC Engineering Co. Ltd, assured government of his company’s fullest cooperation to ensure the timely completion of the project.

The Sierra Leone Commercial Bank is working on the financial modalities to kick start the project.

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  • I only hope and pray that the standing force would deliver for a better west Africa and Sierra Leone and not bane the poor Mama “Salone”.

    25th April 2010

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