The Freetown City Council (FCC) is set to benefit from a five-year Integrated Resilient Urban Mobility Project implemented by the Ministry of Transport and Aviation (MTA). The $50 million project funds came from the World Bank through the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The money is a grant given to the government of Sierra Leone in support of its National Development Plan (NDP) running from 2019 to 2023. The Financial Secretary MoF, Sahr Lahai Jusu, chaired the launch of the national project on the 28th November 2019, at the Miatta Conference Hall, in Freetown. In his opening statements, Jusu said the Sierra Leone Integrated Resilient Urban Mobility Project (SLIRUMP) was approved in June, signed in July and launched in November 2019. “The project was widened to include Western Urban District and not Western Area only as envisaged by the former administration,” said Kabineh M. Kallon, the Minister of Transport and Aviation. He said the project will fund 400 buses commuting within the project corridors to convey people to and from their destinations swiftly and safely. “The project will construct transit markets and terminals at Lumley, pedestrian footbridges, formalized okada/keke stops, bus stops, bus only streets, modern buses, clear roads and drainages so during rains the bus service would not be affected,” Kallon added. The FCC municipality is the largest beneficiary of this project. Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr said, “This World Bank funded project creates significant opportunity for enhancements in the city’s transport infrastructure in terms of institutional capacity, transport infrastructure improvement, enhancement to integrating transport and urban planning policy over the next 5 years. Crucial to the sustained development of Freetown is improvement in transport infrastructure that will give access to employment opportunity, safety for pedestrians and other essential services for the residents and businesses in Freetown,” she said.
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“This project aligns with World Bank strategy for African development, digital economy and private sector intervention. It has the capacity to diversify the economy and contribute to the human capital development, increase economic competitiveness, empower women, children and disable, reduce carbon emission, improve public transport, support Freetown vision in dynamic, efficient and clean city,” said Anne Kabagambe, the Executive Director of World Bank African Constituency One. She said the project is not a World Bank project and called on “Freetonians” to take ownership of it. She also stressed the need for transparency and accountability in the full phase implementation of the project so that people can have value for their money. The SLIRUM project will enable passengers, keep track of the movement of buses on their phones through a mobile app, pay bus fare through a cashless digital card system. Fifty additional school buses and 250 public transport buses are on the way by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, it is safe to say if implemented as envisaged, the project will contribute to the Transform Freetown agenda and improve the living standards of the people who live and work in the city.
By David Thoronka
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