Sierra Leone Cancels plans for China-funded airport

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Definitely, since Julius Maada Bio was sworn in as President of Sierra Leone on 12 May 2018, after defeating the Ernest Bai Koroma government, many political metamorphoses have been taking place in the country. It is no more business as usual. The latest decision by the Julius Bio led the government to cancel a $400m (3300m) contract with China to build a new airport, clearly shows that things are no more the same in Sierra Leone.

According to the country’s aviation minister, Kabineh Kallon the new airport wasn’t necessary, instead, the current airport would rather be renovated, rather than spending $400m on a new airport.

Interestingly, the $400m deal was quickly signed by the Ernest Bai Koroma’s government, just a week before the March election took place, which Mr. Kotoma’s party lost. Worse still, the project was from onset criticised and opposed by both the World Bank and IMF, in view of Sierra Leone’s economic malaise and stagnant debt, which have affected the economic growth of the country. The new airport, according to the international financial agencies and other economic experts, does not make any economic sense.

Although the cancellation of the contract with China could come with financial penalties for Sierra Leone, many have praised the decision of the government to cancel the contract in view of the austerity measures being engineered by the Bio government towards setting the country on a right path. Yet, others call President Bio’s decision a mere political vendetta towards his predecessor.

Is the cancellation of the $400m airport plan a case of sound financial management or a political vendetta? Clearly, one does not need to be an expert to know the answer.

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