“We have put modalities in place and be all assured that our economy will soon bounce back”, Sierra Leone’s Central Bank Governor was addressing Sierra Leoneans and non- Sierra Leoneans in the city of Eindhoven in Holland as Guest Speaker during the fund-raising launching of the Building Bintumani Bridge project organised by indigenes of Koinadugu district living in Europe.
The former Minister of Finance and Economic Development, informed his audience that the Ebola crisis that unexpectedly struck the country in 2013, followed by the dramatic drop in the price of Iron Ore in the World Market which significantly affected the operations of mining companies like African Minerals and London Mining were the two major shocks that seriously affected the country’s economy. He singled out the resilience of the people of Sierra Leone and the exemplary quality leadership of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as some of the factors that contributed to the defeat of the Ebola virus and now gradually getting the economy back to its feet.
Dr. Marah attributed the fall of the Leone as against other international currencies to the drop in the country’s exports. He said any country that imports more than its export, as in the case with Sierra Leone, is bound to experience such an effect. He cited neighbouring countries like Guinea, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria whose local currencies are experiencing knockdown effects far greater than the Leone. He therefore called on Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to use their contacts abroad and help add more values to our local products.
Dr. Kaifala Marah, an indigene of Koinadugu district, gave a graphic narrative of what residents in some Chiefdoms in the district were experiencing before his initiative to improve the road networks in the district – women die in labour; children drop out of Junior Secondary Schools because teachers could not afford to stay in remote villages and towns that are inaccessible; agricultural produce rot in villages because of the lack of good roads, hence the need to mobilise both human and financial resources to help alleviate the sufferings of the people by constructing a bridge across the Mamoria Badella, a confluence of two rivers. The Mamoria Badella across which the bridge that will link the rest of Sierra Leone and the world with the highest peak in West Africa, is where the Rivers Baffin and Bagbe meet but do not mix. What a touristic attraction! Dr. Marah outlined the touristic potentials of the Bintumani Mountain in the Koinadugudistrict and what the district and country stands to benefit if these potentials are fully exploited.
He informed his audience that the Bridging Bintumani Project which underoins the construction of the bridge was launched by HE President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in December 2015 and turned the sod thereby marking the official start of work on the bridge. He called on indigenes of Koinadugu District and friends of Koinadugu District and Sierra Leone to equally own up the project and ensure it becomes a reality. Dr. Marah noted that the bridge once constructed, will avail easy access to the touristic treasures of the Loma Mountain range and Bintumani peak, provide employment, boost the country’s economy and improve the livelihoods of people. It will go a long way to alleviate poverty and lack of access to social amenities of the hundreds of men, women and children living beyond the river, Dr. Marah maintained.
Mrs Florence Bangali, Head of Chancery at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Brussels highlighted the importance of the bridge as it helps to unite separated families, attracts tourists and makes available local produce to the local market, rather than shipping them to Guinea. She added that building a bridge is far better than building a Wall, as the former helps to unite while the latter helps to divide.
Other Speakers at the fund raising launching include the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Central Union (SLCU), Abubakarr Bangura who presented an award to Dr. Marah on behalf of his organisation in recognition of his development initiatives; Entrepreneur Simon Seisay of the Holland Shipyards operating at Cline Town in Freetown and Alieu Fofanah, a Sierra Leonean based in London who climbed and raised the flag of Sierra Leone at the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in December last year.