President Dr Julius Maada Bio told an investors’ conference on the proposed Lungi Bridge that such infrastructure investments should not need to burden the country with huge debt. “So we are not going to build a bridge or an airport for which the people of Sierra Leone are going to pay back a high-interest loan for 10, 20, or 30 years. That simply does not make economic sense,” he said.

The president said that each investment must be able to pay for itself in 10 to 20 years depending on the financing model that was used, adding that each project must also be worth the cost of constructing and maintaining it over its lifespan.

Lungi, which is which is home to the only international airport that serves Sierra Leone, is a small coastal town that is separated from Freetown by about 18km of water.

Chairman of presidential infrastructure initiatives Dr John Edward Tambi welcomed the current government’s undertaking of the task to build the bridge, saying that for 58 years Sierra Leoneans have endured the challenges of crossing over to the airport from Freetown. He said that lives have been lost, businesses destroyed and economic activities stunted. During these years, governments had come and gone with promises to construct a bridge crossing to Lungi but nothing happened, he added.