Departures and Arrivals delayed at Sierra Leone’s proposed second international airport

The ongoing Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone has delayed commencement of construction of the country’s second international airport. The international airport planned for Mamamah (a village just outside the capital Freetown) will be the first airport to be constructed in Sierra Leone since the British constructed the current airport at Lungi. 

Outline plan for new Mamamah International Airport

Lungi airport was initially constructed for use as a Royal Air Force base and later converted as the country’s domestic and international airport.

The construction period for Mamamah airport was initially programmed for 2014 to 2017. So far the only construction completed is the erection of a temporary metrological station that collects up-to-date metrological data. The data collected includes wind speed, wind pressure, rainfall and visibility, all of which will influence the final design and construction of the runway.

The Government of Sierra Leone has secured a US $320m loan from the Chinese Government to implement the airport scheme. There have been some challenging land tenure issues ever since the Sierra Leone Government announced the location for the new airport. There is now a marked influx of property buyers in the area buying up all available plots of land. Some have even erected temporary structures to indicate ownership. This is a worry for the authorities who fear that there may not be enough land to cater for parallel development projects. As a consequence, the Government has prohibited

construction of private structures along the major area earmarked to host the new international airport.

Mamamah is the village hosting the immediate construction area. The area has seven villages and communities that will

Existing international airport at Lungi

have to be relocated. The Sierra Leone Government plans to construct one thousand new homes and set up new communities with essential infrastructures such as schools, roads, water supply and electric power supply. Mamamah itself will benefit from a new hotel facility to be constructed in the surrounding area.

It is expected that the new Mamamah airport will give the country the opportunity to expand as the capital Freetown is already choked.

This project has been delayed for 40 years and any further delays will seriously hinder the country’s opportunity for international competitiveness.