His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has unveiled recently acquired engineering equipment for the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), to continue to effectively deliver on civil works that mitigate disasters and support agricultural activities.
“With the equipment now available, the RSLAF Engineer Regiment will also undertake civil works in support of disaster mitigation and response, including flood control, medical and humanitarian emergencies, and disaster response civil works.
“The RSLAF Engineer Regiment can henceforth also undertake the construction and maintenance of military facilities, support food production and agriculture, and use the machine to generate revenue for the RSLAF in peacetime,” he said.
He emphasised that as Commander-in-Chief he was very delighted again to be taking delivery of, inspecting, and formally commissioning the engineering equipment, which included 230 horsepower crawler bulldozers, crawler excavators, forklift trucks, graders, semi-trailers, tractors, cargo trucks, dump trucks.
“I promised in the New Direction Manifesto, that as President, I would ‘work towards mechanising and modernising the RSLAF to enable them to generate revenue and to contribute to non-traditional military functions such as relief, disaster interventions, agriculture, and construction’. It was a promise made. Today, as a result of the deeply friendly support of the President and the people of the People’s Republic of China, it is a promise delivered,” he said.
President Julius Maada Bio extended sincere gratitude to President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China for the extensive and significant support to develop Sierra Leone in all areas, including education, technical training, healthcare, governance and diplomacy, agriculture, direct investments, trade, small-scale manufacturing, infrastructure and civil engineering, and especially security.
“China has been a steadfast and consistent supporter. Indeed, Sierra Leone is committed to deepening and promoting the solidarity and cooperation between our two friendly nations. China has always been there; and we are assured yet again that China will always be there.
“In the past few months, I have personally commissioned several projects that we have completed for the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces. First is the magnificent Myohaung Officers Mess and the 104 Single Officers Accommodation at the Wilberforce Barracks.
“Next are the six Forward Patrol Bases in Yumkellia, Bomaru, Yenga, Sinkunia, Sanya and Sulima; all along our borders with our sister Republics of Guinea and Liberia. Thanks to the untiring efforts of the First Lady, excellent progress is being made in rehabilitating and transforming the 34 Military Hospital into an ultra-modern facility with a 500-bed capacity, a centre of excellence, a well-equipped nursing school, and a modern paediatric unit. Three weeks ago, I visited the work site with the First Lady and senior officers of the RSLAF. When completed, the 34 Military Hospital will provide outstanding healthcare to service members, their families, and the general public,” he assured.
He said among other projects his government had also funded the construction of the Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess and the Other Ranks Canteen at Wilberforce Barracks, as well as the Guest House at Kingtom that was completely refurbished, adding that the Gondama Housing project, fully funded by Government, was nearly ready for commissioning.
“The naval slipway at Murray Town is nearly complete. As a consequence of my Government’s continued close friendship and partnership with the People’s Republic of China, and in furtherance of our mutual security collaboration, I am also proud to announce today that Sierra Leone has received a Type C Patrol Boat from the President of the People’s Republic of China. When commissioned soon, this offshore vessel will immensely improve the capability of our Maritime Wing for the monitoring and surveillance of our territorial waters including the International Exclusive Zone; fisheries inspection and control; maritime search and rescue; and, accident and disaster response, among others,” he concluded.
Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Mr. Li Xiaoyong, said, “It is a great pleasure to attend the handing over ceremony of the newly arrived Chinese military aid to Sierra Leone. I was told that this latest consignment of machinery, vehicles and equipment has become a topic of the day for soldiers, making them happier and prouder to be servicemen and women in the country.
“This is a result of the long-standing and profound friendship between our two countries, as well as the strong relationship between our two armies. It is also a concrete action of China in supporting President Bio and his government and the people of Sierra Leone in pursuing more remarkable development against numerous challenges.
“I believe that these items will boost the morale of soldiers and contribute to the consolidation of peace, and security in this country. I am of no doubt that this assistance will help President Bio’s New Direction Strategy deliver more well-being to the country and people,” he concluded.