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Sierra Leone cancels $300 million airport deal with China

Sierra Leone cancels $300 million airport deal with China

Hong Kong :Sierra Leone has nixed plans to build a controversial, $318 million airport outside the capital of Freetown with a Chinese company and funded by Chinese loans.

The mega project, which was due to be completed in 2022, had been commissioned by the previous president Ernest Bai Koroma in March this year.

Its cancellation comes amid cooling enthusiasm in both Pakistan and Malaysia for Chinese loans backing large-scale infrastructure projects in recent months. But Sierra Leone’s decision is the first time an African government has canceled an already announced, major China-backed deal.

“After serious consideration and diligence, it is the Government’s view that (it) is uneconomical to proceed with the construction of the new airport when the existing one is grossly under utilized,” said a letter from the country’s Minister of Transport and Aviation to the project’s director, published in local media.