By Amin Kef Sesay
During a very momentous ceremony a foundation laying ceremony for the construction of phases 2 and 3 of the ECOWAS logistics depot took place on the 8th of February 2020 in Lungi, Sierra Leone.
Speaking at the occasion, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission Madam Finda Koroma expressed the appreciation of the Commission to the government and people of Sierra Leone for their commitment to the operationalization of the project.
Taking particular note of the timeliness of the logistics facility Madam Koroma stressed that it remains a very important project for the region’s peace support operations, in the face of increased acts of terrorism and violent extremism perpetuated in a number of the ECOWAS Member States with heavy and dire consequences on the civilian as well as military population.
She disclosed that in addition to the political and strategic considerations, Sierra Leone and, in particular Lungi, was selected as the best location for the ECOWAS Peace Support Operations Facility due to the outstanding performance of the country’s Armed Forces (RSLAF) across the world in peace keeping operations.
Madam Finda Koroma thanked former Presidents of Sierra Leone, including President Julius Maada Bio for their unflinching support and continued advocacy at all levels for the operationalization of the ECOWAS Support Operations Logistics Facility.
In his keynote address, the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh lauded the initiative of the ECOWAS Commission to fast track the depot, despite bureaucratic challenges.
He stressed that the ground breaking ceremony of the logistics depot will send a significant message not only to the rest of Africa, but also to international partners “that West Africa is ready to handle its security and build the infrastructure required to support peace operations”
According to him, the depot will provide support to ECOWAS peace keeping operations to effectively combat violent extremism and terrorist activities in the West African sub-region.
On his part, the Sierra Leonean Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai who chaired the occasion emphasized the importance of the event noting that Sierra Leone had always welcomed ECOWAS with open arms as demonstrated by the high cooperation accorded the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in 1997 to stop the rebellion by the Revolutionary United Front.
The ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for General Administration and Conference Vafolay Tulay gave an overview of the depot project while acknowledging the roles played in its realization by ECOWAS Member States, United States of America, China, and the United Nations through its Mission in Sierra Leone among others.