African News

Lungi International Airport installs modern security apparatus

By  | 21 April 2011 at 20:11 | 1181 views

The Sierra Leone Airport Authority has announced the installation of modern scanning equipment while implementing essential security measures.

Other actions include the renovation of the airport runway and adding other security personnel like police, airport and immigration officers.

Lungi International Airport is finally teetering toward required international standards. The Authority discloses that the equipment installed include baggage scanner, metal detectors for scanning and detecting hidden objects in the human body, and hand scanners.

SLAA is also training airport officials to operate the machines. These mechanisms would tremendously help to save time, and discourage inappropriate body searches.The good news is that the equipment could easily detect drugs, arms and other prohibited and controlled substances.

The General Manager, Mr. John Sesay, is the dynamo behind the recent developments in an effort to ensure that Lungi International Airport meets Grade- A standards while creating a motivating environment for employees and ushering the provision of real incentives.

The current influx of Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora and visitors to Sierra Leone, during the 50th anniversary celebrations is timely, welcome news and evidence of progress. That will make people who once considered the airport backward with outmoded technology and poor services to reconsider.

Also, the Lagan Construction Company has completed the refurbishing of the airport runway, to ensure flights are on schedule and maintain the safety of passengers. The project took 9 months to complete and was financed by the World Bank to the tune of Le 13,933, 662,646.

Unfortunate stories like that of Dr. Oki Dzivenu, a Ghanian married to a Sierra Leonean, who made his maiden visit to ‘Sweet Salone’, would be drastically minimized, if not completely eradicated. Here’s an extract of an interview I had with him:

"It was around midnight of January 1st 2011 to the early morning of January 2nd 2011. When they told us that two of our bags were overweight, we did the re-distribution of our luggage in the full glare of the airport staff and that is when they noticed what valuables we were putting into each bag. I believe that was when my camera bag was targeted. The luggage was not stolen. The zip was ripped open from one end to create a large enough gap for the thief to push their hand into it. The luggage was padlocked. The camera was inside a camcorder bag within the larger luggage. The camcorder was also zipped tight when I put it into the luggage. But when we got home, it was wide open. The luggage contained clothes, kola nuts, bitter kola, African artwork and wood carvings from Big Market and a camcorder bag containing my camera. The monetary value will be about $200. Emotional? I’m afraid I can’t put a price on it: I’d say priceless! "

"Of course! What happened was an aberration at the very end of the visit. When I was in Freetown, I walked alone to the bank to change a considerable amount of money, shopped at Big Market and rode Okada home and I felt at home throughout. The name "Sweet Salone" is an apt description of my stay. Sierra Leone is a beautiful country. The ordinary people are warm and friendly. Sadly, the political and business elite have become a clique of vultures and hyenas who are content to drive the latest and most luxurious 4x4 SUVs on the terrible roads to their gorgeous mansions. The president is doing an excellent job in very trying circumstances. The Creoles are becoming an endangered species. The total economic, physical and political takeover of Freetown by Non-Creoles is just a matter of time. The exact words of this visitor speak volumes. We as Sierra Leoneans and media watch dogs should demand accountability at all times from every quarter of society without exceptions. To imbibe the contrary would be a disservice to the nation and injustice to its wonderful people, incessantly stereotyped by Westerners as a “wretchedly poor country.”

Photo: A photo of Lungi international airport, now being renovated and refurbished.