A significant date passed for Sierra Leone this last weekend – Saturday 7th November 2015 ‘Ebola free’ day. This is marked by the 42 day anniversary of the last Ebola case leaving hospital having been tested negative twice. It may sound like a very precise definition of when you can consider the outbreak to have passed, however this is the criteria set down by the World Health Organisation being twice the maximum incubation period of the virus.
It has been a harrowing experience for the community and one which has been dealt with admirably. We at Westminster played as active a part as we could in support of their efforts to get through the crisis. This however was nothing compared to the bravery of many Sierra Leoneans who were truly on the front line working to resolve the crisis. Despite the international support provided by Britain, NGO’s and other countries, the crisis was so extensive, much more was required, and ultimately, much was achieved therefore through local inventiveness and community spirit.
Now that life can be allowed to return to some form of normality, hopefully the region will be allowed to get itself back on its feet, although the social and economic damage resulting from the crisis will take some time to fully recover. We have seen air carriers keen to increase flights, and in the cases where they do not yet fly into Freetown, to commence flights. This is encouraging for the locals and will ultimately mean more jobs and a greater influx of wealth.
Of course, where we fit in is to make sure that there are no security concerns for global carriers using the airport as professional and effective airport security is a high priority these days as the tragic events at Sharm el Sheikh have shown. In addition, we will be linking the airport up with the capital city via our new ferry transfer service. One of the issues for visitors and global carriers alike was the lack of safe and reliable transit options to get passengers and crews across the estuary to the city itself. This presented a barrier to growth. Our new ferry operations are set to address that problem and help to attract new airlines and visitors to the country to aid future prosperity and growth.
I am sure that I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that this is a welcome milestone. There is still lots to do but this remains a long awaited day.