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Lungi Bridge - A Great and Permanent Idea!

17,Aug 2018
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By Tholoma Sumah

Freetown is the capital city of Sierra Leone and Lungi is the host to the only International Airport in the country.

However, these two important places have been separated by water since the country was discovered in 1462. Therefore, there has been much anticipation for the construction of a bridge to connect these two places. Britain, Sierra Leone’s colonial master did not do it after over a hundred and fifty years of colonial rule. Sierra Leone became independent in 1961 and since then, citizens have been yearning for a bridge to run through the Sierra Leone River estuary to connect Lungi to Freetown. The estuary is believed to be a varying length of four (4) to Ten (10) miles.

There have been rumors that attempts have been made since the reign of Siaka Probyn Steven, the first Prime Minister of Sierra Leone to connect Freetown to Lungi but failed. Late Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabba and Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma also attempted in their reign as presidents respectively. It was reported by the media that Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma promised that the construction of the bridge will commence in his second term in office as president. He however left office after two terms without any sign of the bridge. Now, President Julius Maada Bio has been reported by the media of calling on investors to help in the construction of the said bridge.

Currently, the means of transportation over the Sierra Leone River estuary includes local boats (Pampas), speed boats, Mini Ferries and Ferries. All of these means of transportation have showed great disadvantages over the years. The ‘Pampas’ and speed boats are usually involving in accidents leading to the death of passengers. The Mini Ferries are expensive to the common man and the bigger Ferries are the major means of transportation across the estuary. They board hundreds of people, luggage and vehicles. I have not heard of a fatal accident with the bigger Ferries but I have heard of them being drifted to the wrong directions. Their speed and durability have been questioned over the years. At times there is only one functional Ferry and this normally increases the constraints in transportation.

Therefore, there is every need to connect Lungi-the host to the only International Airport in Sierra Leone and Freetown-the capital of Sierra Leone. Connecting these two places can salvage the issue of transportation system across the Sierra Leone River estuary. However, I strongly believe that connecting Lungi to Freetown does not only salvage the transportation problems but also help economically, socially, educationally and will help to decongest Freetown etc.

Economically, Lungi and its environs can now travel with their goods to Freetown easily and attracts suitable prices for them. As it is now, many traders complain of their goods being perished before reaching Freetown and consequently leading to losses. It would also promote inter-trade between Freetown and the North-West. Trade has been a one-way-flow, that is, North-Westerners bringing goods to Freetown. But, with a bridge, Freetownians can as well take their goods to the North-West. Taxes paid to use the bridge can raise revenue for the government for other development projects.

Socially, the interactions between the people of Lungi and Freetown can be enhanced. A football team can be conveniently invited by either place to participate in a football league. Though one can argue that this has been happening, but it has not been effective. Other social activities like musical performance, sports, and arts and culture can now be co-hosted.

Educationally, the bridge can help the issue of education wherein pupils and students can now freely travel to the opposite town for education. Many pupils in Lungi attend schools in Freetown and they sometimes come late as a result of the transportation system. Therefore with a bridge this can be solved. Also there are students who want to attend higher colleges in Freetown like Fourah Bay College, IPAM, and COMMAHS but did not have a resident in Freetown and they end up in some lower colleges around Lungi and its environs. But with an easy way of transportation, these students can conveniently live in Lungi and attend colleges in Freetown. This can even prompt college authorities to open branches in Lungi.

Finally and most importantly, connecting Lungi to Freetown can decongest Freetown. I have heard residents of Freetown say if only Lungi was connected to Freetown, they will prefer to stay in Lungi. People living in slum communities in Freetown have also expressed willingness to vacate these disaster prone areas but have nowhere to go. Therefore, Lungi and its environs can be a perfect place. In my view Lungi and environs has the potential of hosting over one-third (1/3) of the population of Freetown. It is noteworthy that government has always wanted to decongest Freetown. Connecting Lungi to Freetown will help government in that direction.

As I said earlier, previous leaders have failed to connect Lungi to Freetown through a bridge and the current president, Rtd Brig. Julius Maada has been reported calling on investors for the project. Can president Bio accomplish the much anticipated project? He has less than five years from now.

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