Rogbere Community, Port Loko District, Saturday 14 May 2022 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has commissioned the 48 million Euros (Le 634 billion) Magbele Bridge, saying that the 163-meter-long modern two-lane bridge, now provides a safer corridor for trade and commerce.
“In less than 4 years alone in Port Loko District, my government, with our EU partners, has constructed this 163-meter-long modern two-lane bridge. In less than 4 years, we are constructing a $270 million USD airport terminal at Lungi, Port Loko District even when the other people wanted to move the airport away from Lungi.
“In less than 4 years, we are reconstructing and modernising the Tagrin ferry terminal and working on bridging 4 new ferries. In less than four years, we have reopened the iron-ore mines at Marampa, expanded its operations, and created more jobs for our people in Port Loko District,” he said.
“It is this shared vision ‘to make the lives of people richer and happier’ [as stated back 66 years ago by Paramount Chief Alikali Modu]; the shared vision to make travel across the Rokel River safer; the shared vision to create safe transportation, trade, and economic corridor to move goods and commerce from and to Guinea, Kono, Kabala, Makeni and beyond to Freetown; the shared vision to provide safer access to health care with ambulances safely transporting patients, safer access to education, and safe access to other public services; it is that shared vision that has moved our development partner, the European Union and my Government to work on this brand new bridge.
“Therefore, I want to particularly thank our partners, the European Union, for their invaluable support for this and other infrastructural projects throughout the country. Our cooperation has picked on a new vibrancy, no doubt, because of our shared belief that by collaborating closely and doing things transparently, we can achieve real results and thus transform the lives of Sierra Leoneans, ease access to services, and promote international trade. Thank you for your continued belief in working with my Government,” he said.
The President also recalled the billions of leones invested to refurbish the Port Loko Government hospital with a functional ambulance service and medical facilities that provided regular supplies of drugs, adding that Community Health Care Centres now had access to solar electricity after the government hired more nurses and midwives specifically for Port Loko District.
“Fewer mothers are now dying in childbirth and fewer children under five are now dying as there is better immunisation and primary health care. Our friends in the UAE have also invested in constructing a major health facility. In just four years, my government thought it fit to bring in agricultural investors to consider rice production in the Rombeh area. There is an investment in onion and vegetable production in Port Loko District
“Add this to electricity access [solar] in Lokomasama and other places in just four years, my government – I personally came to Lokomasama in 2019 to switch on the lights. So, in just four years, my government has invested extensively in Port Loko District by all accounts,” he said.
Director General of Sierra Leone Roads Authority, Ing. Amara Kanneh, said the bridge was constructed with funds from the European Union, EU, under the supervision of the National Authorising Office (NAO) in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, saying that the two-lane bridge would replace the dilapidated one lane.
Ing. Kanneh further stated that the bridge was 7.2 meters on each side with a footpath of 5 meters as opposed to the old one that had no footpath, noting that the load-bearing capacity of the bridge was guaranteed.
“This bridge will stand the test of time, and if preventive measures are observed and maintained, it will serve for more than 100 years. Thank you very much President Julius Maada Bio for providing the requisite leadership. Thank you, the EU,” he concluded.
EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Manuel Müller, said he was happy that the bridge, which project they funded was being commissioned by the President of the country, adding that the construction of the New Magbele bridge started in October 2018 as part of the package of roads infrastructure projects Sierra Leone and the EU intended to round up before the 2023 rainy season.
He further noted that they had a long and strong relationship with Sierra Leone and with a track record of working together in education, governance, decentralisation, agriculture, environment, rural electrification and the management of public finances. He said that the EU would continue to work with the country to achieve its development agendas.
“Building bridges is important, also between nations. It is not by coincidence that on the back of all Euro banknotes you will find drawings of bridge constructions. What we witness today here in Magbele also is part of a huge program of building bridges between nations, as this road is part of a network connecting the whole of West Africa. The European Union believes in the ‘Global Gateway’. The cooperation of the EU and Sierra Leone, our teamwork has contributed to more connectivity in the sub-region,” he concluded.
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