African News

Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh commissions Sierra Queen Ferry

13 June 2015 at 20:46 | 1561 views

By John Baimba Sesay, Freetown.

Deputising His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma at the commissioning ceremony at the Lagonda Entertainment Complex in Aberdeen , Freetown,of the Sierra Queen ferry on Thursday 11th June, Vice President Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh said the event was a major step towards the development of the country’s maritime transport more so as it is an addition to government’s effort to improve transportation especially at sea and on land.

Vice President Foh said the commissioning of the ferry came at a time when the country’s transport ministry was working assiduously in addressing the challenges of public transport faced in the country.

He disclosed that about 100 buses would soon be available in the country and are expected to serve "our school children, businessmen and women and other travellers across the country"

Government’s principal focus in the transport sector,Vice President Foh said, "is to create a reliable, safe, effective and affordable transfer service from Freetown to the international airport town of Lungi and other parts of Sierra Leone" and that to demonstrate such commitment, the Government of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma has constructed terminals and jetties at Government Wharf, Kissy and Targrin where Sovereign Ferries will be operating from.

Government, he said, has also completed the road through Port Loko as another route to link our international airport and its surrounding communities to the rest of the country.

At the same time, he said, the country’s Minister of Transport and Aviation has been occupied with the task of getting international flights to resume operations in the country following their suspension due to the Ebola outbreak.

According to Vice President Foh, Government cannot address all these development challenges faced in the transport sector without the effective involvement of the private sector and as such, acknowledged and expressed Government’s appreciation to the Westminster Group for their continued investment in the country, especially with their intervention in sea transport.

Sierra Leoneans who largely rely on the sea route from Freetown to Lungi,he said, now have a reliable alternative to the already overburdened ferries and greater safety is now assured with this new addition.

It is the expectation of Government, he said, that the professional services that will be provided by the ferry will not only drastically reduce transfer time from the airport but it will also set the safety standards that Government is aiming to achieve with respect to the Lungi/Freetown transfer service.

"These efforts are in tune with our aspirations in the Agenda for Prosperity and we hope this service will serve as an example of investments that align with our country’s development agenda",he said.

Vice President Foh implored the country’s development partners and the private sector to participate to fully boost government’s efforts in returning the country to normal life,even as the country is moving to a post Ebola recovery period.

Government,he said, considers sea transport, especially to and from the airport town of Lungi as being very crucial in complementing air and land transportation and enhancing the livelihood of Sierra Leoneans and therefore urged "the crew not to compromise safety regulations, not even in the face of an emergency, as safety itself is an emergency regulation."

The ferry,he went on , should be a model for sea transport in terms of its quality of comfort and safety and customer service,whilst commendin the Westminster Group and Sovereign Ferries for the intervention.

Speaking earlier,Minister of Transport and Aviation,Leonard Balogun Koroma, said the commissioning was in line with President Koroma’s "vision to create safe,reliable and effective airport transfer services to and from Lungi International Airport"and that,it came at a time when the President’s leadership in the Ebola fight was bearing positive fruits.

Airlines that had left the country due to Ebola,the Minister said,are now returning to increase numbers of incoming and outgoing passengers.

The Ministry of Transport and Aviation,he said, is robustly helping in the transformation of the country which is being spearheaded by the President.
Minister Koroma informed his audience that soon,100 buses will be commissioned by the President and "very soon,...the President will also launch the Mamamah International Airport Project,a flagship project of His Excellency..."

The capacity of the commissioned ferry,he disclosed, will be 190 passengers with a lot of facilities.

Also speaking were the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone Peter West amongst others. The formal naming ceremony of the ferry was done by the country’s First Lady,Madam Sia Koroma.