Sierra Leone’s new government has signed its first deal with a Chinese company for the procurement of busses, APA learnt in Freetown on Monday.The deal, which according to media reports was signed by Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon, will see the Beijing-based automotive manufacturer, Xiamen Golden Dragon Bus Co. Ltd, supply 200 buses to Sierra Leone when the procurement processes are concluded later in the year.
The agreement was sealed at the fringes of the ongoing China-Africa Summit in Beijing where President Julius Maada Bio is leading a 15-man delegation that include cabinet ministers and other senior government officials.
It is Bio’s first trip to China as president of Sierra Leone. Minister Kallon in a statement, distributed by the State House Communication team accompanying the presidential delegation, was quoted describing the development as ‘epoch making event’. He cited the difficulties Sierra Leoneans were going through in meeting social services, noting that the new government was determined to address them.
The 200 commuter buses are expected to drastically cut down on a severe shortage of means of public transportation in the country, particularly in the capital, Freetown.
Xiamen Golden Dragon Bus Co. Ltd is a Chinese joint venture company which develops, manufacture and sells long luxury buses and light vans. Its products, which also include coaches, are labelled with the trade mark of “Golden Dragon”.
It is ranked as one of the top 10 bus manufacturers and bus brands in China, with a client based that cut across nearly 40 countries and regions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America.
The deal with the Sierra Leone government has rekindled fears of a bad experience in 2015 when the government of former President Ernest Bai Koroma controversially ordered 100 buses which turned out to be old vehicles.
The procurement process of that batch of buses, which is currently the subject of investigation as part of president Bio’s anti-graft crusade, was also questioned. Officials in the new administration were quoted assuring that the right procurement procedure will be followed this time round.