Freetown City Council Opens New City Hall
Freetown, Sierra Leone, 6th November 2020 – Freetown City Council today hosted the Opening Ceremony for the new City Hall, with the keynote address delivered by Hon. Tamba Lamina, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
Present at the Opening Ceremony were the Ambassador of South Korea to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Major General Lee In-Tae and his delegation; the Deputy Minister of Finance, Hon Patricia Laverly and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Solomon Jamiru Esq. Also present were Dr Kaifala Marah, former Minister of Finance, Mrs Ebun Strasser-King, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, members of the diplomatic community, Councillors and staff of Freetown City Council. The Opening Ceremony for the new City Hall concluded with a guided tour of the facilities following the cutting of a ribbon and the unveiling of a plaque by Hon. Minister Tamba Lamina, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr and Ambassador Lee In-Tae. The New City Hall is the administrative complex for Freetown City Council, whose primary purpose will be to serve as the Office of the Mayor and the Council’s Administration. Dominating Freetown’s skyline at 15 stories tall, the City Hall is a modern building in the heart of the City’s Central Business District.
The City Hall has been rebuilt on the site where it previously stood before being burnt down in 1999. The construction started in the early 2010s when former Mayor, Herbert George-Williams, through the Government of Sierra Leone started soliciting funds to provide adequate working space for the Freetown City Council. The complex is financed via a concessional loan to the Government of Sierra Leone from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) through the Korean Exim Bank and facilitated by the Government of South Korea. The South Korean Government Agreement with Government of Sierra Leone, under the presidency of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, was signed on 8th October 2013. The Contract Agreement between Freetown City Council and the Korean Consultants (for design, bidding and supervision) was signed in February 2014. After a break caused by the Ebola outbreak, the Contract Agreement was signed with the South Korean Contractors in December 2016 and construction work started in October 2017, under the leadership of Mayor Franklyn Bode Gibson.
The financing demonstrates great collaboration at various levels of government. Delivering his keynote address at the launch, Hon Tamba Lamina commended all parties involved in the construction – line ministries, Freetown City Council, members of parliament, and contractors – for showing how we can all work together. “When we are moved by common good that is when we make the impossible possible,” the Minister emphasized.
The construction of the City Hall was a $54.9m project, which was financed through a loan on the Government of South Korea to the Government of Sierra Leone, with Freetown City Council as the Implementing Agency. The loan agreement was signed in December 2013 and has a highly concessional interest rate of 0.01% per annum, payable over 25 years. The Government of Sierra Leone’s contribution to the project was to be $8m made via the waiver of import duty and other taxes. The City Hall has hospitality and entertainment facilities, in addition to 9 floors of high-grade office space, conference and learning facilities and much-needed car-parking for the Central Business District of Freetown.
The construction of the New City Hall also demonstrates strong international ties. In his statement, the Ambassador of South Korea to Sierra Leone, “Since the establishment of our diplomatic relations in 1962, Korea has always been a close friend of Sierra Leone.”
The launch of the building does not signify its official handing over. The building is expected to be officially handed over to the Freetown City Council at the end of November 2020 when all contractual obligations are meant to have been met. The administration of the Council will move into the building by the end of December 2020. The Freetown City Council will outsource the some of the complex’s excellent facilities, which include:
• A roof-garden, sky-lounge restaurant, kitchen and ten hotel rooms
• Three floors of ultra-modern office space, of approximately 1000 square meters each
• A library, computer laboratory and open exhibition area
• And multi-storey car park
• An auditorium for 460 people with cinema seating, fully-fitted stage, and audio-visual equipment
The City Hall will provide much-needed space for Freetown City Council to provide services and engage with residents as the Council implements its Transform Freetown Agenda.
During her statement, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr explains “We are thrilled as Freetown City Council to be opening this building today… The new City Hall’s journey from a concept design to the beautiful and multi-functional edifice in which we are now gathered encourages us that the quest to #Transform Freetown may face setbacks and challenges, it may take longer than we might originally have intended, but with collaboration and cooperation, with determination and perseverance, transformation will come to Freetown.”
The City Hall will showcase Freetown’s reputation as a rapidly transforming city and it will be a source of pride for Freetonians.
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