Internet, roads, and airport much better in Sierra Leone

3
3280

On going improvements at Lungi International Airport, the introduction of 3G, and the near completion of the Congo Cross-Spur Road construction project, are evidence of a much improved Sierra Leone.

Lungi International Airport

Upon arrival at Lungi International Airport I was pleasantly surprised to see that the barrage of signage advertising local companies had been replaced by freshly plastered walls, the look of work-in-progress. And when we entered the arrival hall to make it through immigration, the partition separating baggage claim was also gone. And when we finally got to collect our baggage there were only a handful of handlers as compared the 2-1 handler to traveller ratio that once existed.

For many years, Sierra Leone’s airport was an eyesore in the West African sub-region. Amongst many other concerns, the airport building was outdated and its management wanting.

Now the Sierra Leone Airports Authority (SLAA) has started a $5 million dollar runway refurbishment project to bring Lungi up to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety and security standards.

Lagan Construction  a company headquartered in Belfast, U.K. won the $5 million World Bank funded project to improve Lungi’s Tarmac and security. According to their website, Lagan Construction was charged with improving both London’s Luton Airport, and Bermuda’s International Airport.

3G Telecommunications Technology

Earlier this year I read that the mobile phone companies and introduced 3rd Generation Telecommunications Technologies – 3G to local users in Sierra Leone. When this news broke, I was skeptical because as early as a year ago, some in the telecommunications industry were already claiming to have 3G while operating at what can only be described as .5G speeds.

My sim card was replaced the day I arrived and I was amazed to find that when I put credit on the phone, I was automatically able to browse the internet without any prior configuration or need to visit the local Airtel office. In addition to this, I was able to use google talk and Skype apps, as well as twitter and Facebook. Seven months ago, when I left Freetown, one had to have a blackberry to access the internet. And the few who were able to access the internet on their mobile phones, had to first visit the phone company’s offices to have it done.

I am thrilled to share that anyone with a smart phone can now access 3G services in Sierra Leone. Both Airtel and Africell advertise as 3G providers. Next step for 3G should be the availability of data bundle packages for users instead of the costly per megabit rate.

Congo-Cross to Spur Road Construction

In 2010 a Chinese construction company won the bid to expand Congo Cross starting at the bridge to Lumley Police Station, and then up to Spur Road. Yesterday I drove the length from Congo Cross to Wilkinson and then up to Spur Road. While construction is still ongoing, the leg from Congo Cross to Wilkinson is complete. And its seems as though the construction company who came under much criticism for the seemingly unplanned manner in which it worked, has learnt its lessons. The Spur Road portion seems much better organized with less congestion. Also from the looks of it, they will probably complete it in a shorter time period.

  • sorie k fofanah

    vickie thanks very much for the good work that you are doing God will bless you for the good work that you are doing.one thing i want you to do is that,let no politician convince you about the good work that you are doing.you are making us know about many things that are happing in the world.thanks

  • I am the vice chairman of the Sweissy Union UK, I would like to get in touch with Vicky because as I see she is doing a good job for her country and also i will like to showcase what sweissy is doing as an organisation ( A registered charity)with an office and a centre for mainly sierra leoneans to do job search and learn basic computer skills in the UK we also promote community cohesion and build community members capacity.
    please get in touch as we want you to be our partner of choice.
    regards
    T. Foday (flex)

  • Maria

    Dear Vicki,

    I do think you should also mention that its interesting that most of these things apart from the internet (mind you the number of 3g users is very limited, there is no network connection in a lot of districts and not to mention that to have internet in a private house costs 400 usd per month + 300 usd for installation) are happening now, last months and weeks before the elections. The road from Lumley roundabout up to St. Marys supermarket has been under construction for a year now and its nice to see how its progressing. But you should also mention the fact that construction of public lightning on Wilkinson Road has started 10 days. And I don’t know when was the last time you were out of Freetown let me say in Kailahun, Bonthe or in Pujehun districts – the roads are basically non existent, muddy and no one has done anything to fix that. Kailahun is one of the most underdeveloped districts in the country and it takes you 10 hours with a 4×4 to get there, if you don’t get stuck in mud. It would be good to mention a 300 million us dollars waste managment contract promising to employ 2000 + youth came out this week (without any public info on why the company that got the contract got it, no TORs…).

    I am not saying that things are not changing, but we need to be fair – fixing things on last days before elections is the oldest trick in the game – as is a big lack of transparency and accountability.