The Lungi Bridge has been a speaking level for a lot of Sierra Leoneans these days and the
quantity of coverage has been nicely deserved. While some see it as the right step in
the right course for improvement, others think about it as a self aggrandising
monument or a logo of avarice by the Bio authorities.
It isn’t shocking that it has come in for criticism or applauds from numerous sections of our society. It is
obvious that some of the opinions expressed are deeply rooted in the numerous
political persuasions; which in impact could possibly be suspect, whereas others are from patriotic
standpoints. But in between these contrasting opinions are those who have acquired
the news with cautious optimism.
This group of people might have every cause to
be equally optimistic but cautious; optimistic due to the related potential of
the bridge, however cautious because of the hidden or unknown value.
Like I mentioned in my last article, the president has achieved his greatest to re-assure the
nation that building the bridge won’t depart us handcuffed to any national debt. It
has been touted as a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) enterprise model. This will likely
have left some individuals with the impression that the bridge will probably be free. If the bridge
was going to be free, you’d marvel why all the fuss, or ask why should individuals
be wanting a gift horse in the mouth? My layman understanding of the challenge is that;
it is going to be constructed, operated, by the suppliers for an agreed contractual period, till the
quantity invested is repaid. But what is a BOT business model?
A Build-Function-Switch (BOOT) is one sort of a public-private partnership, or PPP.
Beneath this venture mannequin, a personal group will develop a big undertaking underneath the
contract of a public companion. It is a option to create giant infrastructure tasks for the
public, whereas with the ability to use personal funding for it. At the end of the contract period,
which can be 40+ years in size, possession of the undertaking transfers from the personal
enterprise to the public sector. Some individuals have already tied down this BOT to a
99 yr lifespan. If that is the case, none of us studying this article now shall be around
then. Scary, is it? So what are we making an attempt to bequeath to the unborn generations and
what are the benefits and disadvantages of such a model?
Amongst the numerous advantages, the BOT model minimises the public value for
infrastructure improvement, reduces public debt, and permits for innovation. In
addition, a BOT mannequin supplies an opportunity to deliver in expertise, allows each social gathering to
concentrate on their strengths, and retains the public-sector the place they are most wanted.
On the downside, such models can have greater transaction costs, require fund-
raising to achieve success and only works for giant tasks. Such a model may
require substantial operational revenues and robust company governance to be
Contemplating that Sierra Leone has a malignant analysis of worldwide developmental
delay, do we have a robust base for fund raising? The Lungi Bridge challenge is giant,
however do we have sufficient viable profitable operational revenues and robust corporate
governance ethic? Can we succeed towards a backdrop of pervasive corruption; an
affliction that President Bio has sworn to remedy? This text shouldn’t be aimed toward pouring
chilly water on President Bio’s pet venture. Relatively, it’s aimed toward producing a
conversation for the basic good; to make sure that we don’t bounce head first, into the
very river that we are making an attempt to bridge. Additional caution and due diligence must be paid
to potential Greater Transaction Prices. That could be where the devil is in the detail; in
spite of the notion that it’ll not value you and me a shilling.
President Maada Bio has simply invited bidders to undertake the financing of this
challenge. There’s nothing to point that bidders are falling over themselves for the
opportunity to take on the undertaking. This is not to recommend that there are no bidders.
This stuff take a life of secrecy. But we can second guess the standard suspects;
and the Chinese won’t be far behind in this race. Chinese language investments in Africa in
the final 2 many years have been monumental.
While the rest of the western world has been pre-occupied with regime modifications in
the Middle East, China has unapologetically, but stealthily slipped onto the
developmental landscape of the African continent. Their readiness to splash the
money, in change for giant swathes of the continent’s markets for his or her surplus
goods on the one hand, and the sourcing of the continent’s vast assets to service
their insatiable demands for its ever rising population is an open secret. Some call
it financial symbiosis, while others see them like drunken sailors able to spray the
In contrast to their western counterparts like the IMF, typical knowledge would lead you
to consider that Chinese help haven’t any strings hooked up. In case you are questioning, the
worth of gasoline has gone down by 3 pence a litre in the UK, while the IMF lately
ordered our authorities to increase the worth of gasoline; sorry remove the gasoline subsidy,
in change for $ 21.6 Hundreds of thousands. Catch my drift? However at face value, Chinese
investments have been made to appear to be charitable gestures to the poor. However are
they? In contrast, we get to know a few of the circumstances from the IMF. With the
Chinese language, these circumstances appear to take a cult-like flavour.
That is one among the explanation why some individuals, while recognising the need for the
Lungi Bridge, have remained very cautious. Such cautions are not borne of out thin
air, but what you’d name acquired knowledge and the history books. China has been
accused by its geo-political rivals of partaking in “debt traps” for African
nations. I choose to call it “debt-diplomacy” for now; until they begin calling for his or her
money. There’s a temptation to dismiss such accusations as coming from green eyed
rivals and bitter grapes.
In accordance with China Investments International Tracker, Chinese language investments and
contracts in sub-Saharan Africa complete $299 billion from 2005 to 2018. The
Chinese president Xi Jinping vowed to take a position an extra $60 billion
into African nations at the 2018 China–Africa Cooperation Discussion board. What is often
bought as “Chinese companies” investing in Africa is grossly false; for the majority of
these “companies” are state owned.
To ensure that us to know why some people are cautiously optimistic about this
venture, we need to take a look at examples of Chinese “investments round the world in
creating nations; in our case underdeveloped. Let’s take the Sri Lankan
expertise; the place the Sri Lankan Port was financed by considered one of Beijing’s largest state–
owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Improvement Venture.
With shut proximity
to the world’s busiest delivery lanes, the forecast was for a robust base for fund
elevating. However with tens of hundreds of ships passing by along certainly one of the world’s
busiest delivery lanes, the reality was that the port drew only 34 ships in 2012 (The
New York Occasions-June 25, 2018). With the apparent loss, the government struggled to
make payments. Underneath heavy strain and collection of renegotiations, the Sri Lanka
authorities had no choice however handy over the port and 15,000 acres of land
around it to the Chinese for 99 years last December. The Chinese have been
recognized to play hardball in terms of debt collection.
Apparently, many consider that the Chinese language are allergic to the inner politics of their
host nations; in comparability to UK, France or USA. That could possibly be the case, however not
if they have investments and contracts to guard. So the place did you assume those pink
T-shirts, Okadas, other promotional materials and the Le 30,000.00 got here from
during the final elections in Sierra Leone ? Now you already know why that Chinese guy was
dancing during one among our political rallies last yr. Have been there any obvious threats
from the opposition social gathering to tear up beforehand agreed contracts, if it came to power?
Chinese language corporations have been recognized to pump giant sums into marketing campaign funds of
“friendly political parties” that comply with their terms. They have been recognized to impose
their very own most popular corporations in the bidding course of; as a condition to obtain loans.
In some instances, the circumstances for loans have been “no open bidding” process
(WikiLeaks). Some name these house economics.
There are two ways you possibly can subjugate a country; the sword or debt. I do know which
the Chinese want. Towards such a backdrop, there isn’t a doubt that what passes for
loans, help, assistance, debt, or no matter you need to name it, all the time comes with
circumstances. Beware of the “SMALL PRINT”; for the devil is in the details. But before
we turn a frosty take a look at Chinese language investments in Africa in basic, and the Lungi
Bridge in specific, it was value remembering the following. Firstly, our President
has simply launched the bidding process. This is not to say that the Chinese are, or will
be the last profitable bid for the Lungi Bridge. But don’t rule the Chinese language out as main
With our President’s assurance that the bridge won’t value you and me a shilling to
build, how will this “gift” be paid for? Some have steered that it is going to be operated on
a toll system; taking a leaf out of EBK’s “How to pay for your Road”, guide Two, 2
version. I nonetheless can’t work out the use of the tolls at Mile 38 and 47, aside from as
cash cows to fund another debt. Have they decreased journey occasions or congestion?
Don’t answer that. How much will it value commuters to use the bridge? What number of
customers will it have to make it value efficient or income generating friendly? Some might
say that this is not the time to “look a gift horse in the mouth”. However ought to we “beware
of Greeks bearing presents”? In case, simply in case there is a breach of contract, would the
- Operators ask to function Lungi Airport as nicely; to know who comes in or goes out ofthe nation.Indications are that the majority of Sierra Leoneans, including I help the challengefrom a developmental viewpoint. The caution could also be about the unstated particularsand inherent financial minefields that such tasks may be insidiously embedded.We’d like the Lungi Bridge, however at what value. What some of us are asking is for theauthorities to be very diligent; for once you sign on the dotted line, erasers are nolonger out there. When you tick the “accept button, you possibly can’t untick. Ask google. Sobefore we sign and tick the bins, please read the positive print. And simply as a specialmeasure, have a quiet word with the Sri Lankans, and find out where they wentfallacious. It isn’t felony to ask these questions. Whether it is, then I’m guilty as hell. Sorry.Don’t overlook to learn the small print.Don’t overlook to show the lights off earlier than you allow the room.Abdulai Mansara