Mamamah Airport is a Sham: Director General, SLCAA

Montreal, Canada, Wednesday 10th October 2018—Following the termination of the Mamamah Airport Project, the Director General of Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority, Moses Tiffa Baio has averred that the Mamamah Project is a sham, as it does not only serve as an unnecessary financial burden on the government and the people of Sierra Leone but also does not measure up to the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on airport design and construction.

As head of SLCAA, he wishes to inform the general public that the decision—which was based on technical reasons—of the government is in the best interest of the country; therefore Sierra Leoneans should applaud the effort of the government to save the land that we love from another safety deficiency. 

The Director-General believes that the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority has no documents related to the Freetown International Airport Project. He maintained that several letters were sent for which the Freetown International Airport Project team responded, but the Chinese refused to release any document connected to the said project until an initial payment, they had invested in the project, was paid.  

Mr. Baio added that due to the investigations and notes taken during the project’s technical meetings, he noted that the primary determining factor for the location of an airport and the orientation of a runway is the meteorological studies done to determine the wind speed and direction. “In the case of the proposed Mamamah Airport,” he said, “no specific meteorological studies were conducted for the particular airport location, but the meteorological data for Freetown, as a whole, was considered,” he said. He also believes, however, that the method used does not comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation Standards and Recommended Practices (ICAO Annex 14 and Aerodrome Design Manual Part 1).

He went further to expose the ineffectiveness of the project by dismissing that in the area of statistics for visibility, no realistic studies were done for the particular site. The Director-General confirmed they used the visibility data for Freetown instead.

“They used the data from passenger forecast studies which were conducted between the year 2000—2009 to forecast for traffic growth for 2020, which means the size of the proposed design was based on the traffic expected (projected) for the year 2020. It was expected that the project which was designed to span for 3 years would have started in 2010 with hope to be completed by 2013. As we are now in 2018, taking the increase in passenger growth and the time lapse for the initiation of the project, the design for passenger growth for the year 2020 was becoming obsolete.”

He furthered that the proposed floor areas of the Passenger Terminal Building (5,000 m sq), parking lots (7,000 m sq), Admin Building (3,600 m sq), RFFS (100 m sq) Apron (317 m X 122 m), the number and designation of aircraft the Apron can park, amongst other things, was presumed to be smaller compared to what we currently have at the Freetown International Airport. He noted, however, that this presumption could not be confirmed as the airport authority could not provide and has still not provided information on these facilities after several letters sent to them.

Mr. Baio strengthened his statement by adding that: “From spatial diagram presented during one of the meetings, it was observed that the airspace of Freetown International Airport and Mamamah overlaps; the distance between the two airports is 42km, and the distance between the axial lines is 15km. For the lateral separation, both airports can suffice the requirement of 10km radar control, but fails to meet the requirement of 20km procedure control, so airspace conflict exists here.”

The CAA boss reiterated that base on the above observations, the completion of the construction of the Mamamah Airport could not have met the International Civil Aviation Organisation requirements for airport certification which could have led to a serious safety deficiency on the part of the State, and, thus, pose an air travel risk which could have served as a disincentive to potential investors and tourists travelling into Sierra Leone.

He concluded by noting that the above observations mentioned were stated in those technical committee meetings of which the Chinese Contractors could not verify/provide for further information.

For more information on the above please contact the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority which is the ONLY body mandated by law (SLCAA Act 2017) to advise the government on the development of the aviation industry in Sierra Leone or visit CAA 3rd Floor NDB Building 21—23 Siaka Steven Street.