The Sierra Leone Web


Speech by the President
Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
At the official opening of
The Bintumani Hotel
Aberdeen, Friday 31 January 2003


I am here to perform a simple but very important ceremony. It is a ceremony that should invoke a deep sense of national pride. At the same time I believe that it should also be an occasion for a fresh look at the importance of public and private property in the development of this country.

Let me start off with something nostalgic.

Years ago a lighthouse stood on this very spot. Its beam stretched across the ocean to guide ships - cargo boats, freighters, oil tankers and passenger liners - into our beautiful natural harbour, one of the largest in the world. Today, this hotel has re-emerged in its place.

Sitting as it is majestically atop the highest point of the Cape, the Bintumani is also a beacon, a beacon to attract and welcome the thousands of business people, tourists and others who enter our country every year, by sea and by air, as well as by land.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know, numbers of stars are often used to rate the quality of hotels. We hear of two-star hotels, three or five-star hotels, and so on. By our own estimation, thanks to the Government of the Peoples Republic of China and the Beijing Urban Construction Group, The Bintumani deserves a special rating. In our estimation it is rated as a super-star hotel.

Naming the hotel "The Bintumani", after the highest mountain in Sierra Leone, is today more meaningful than ever before. After carrying the scars of deadly rebel bullets and vandalism, it now has more than a face-lift. It stands tall, literally towering above its peers. It has already set a new standard of quality accommodation and ambience in the hotel business in the country. I have no doubt that others will be looking up, in every sense, to The Bintumani for inspiration in the rehabilitation, refurbishing and management of hotels in Sierra Leone.

I am therefore delighted to be here today, not only to formally re-open this hotel, but also to personally applaud the effort of the Beijing Urban Construction Group and its local co-workers for transforming what unfortunately had become an eyesore, into a beautiful, decent and top-class hotel.

Of course today's event would not have been possible without the assistance of one of our most reliable and sympathetic development partners, the Peoples Republic of China. By undertaking this project the Chinese Government has demonstrated confidence in our national reconstruction effort. Its contribution to the refurbishing and re-opening of this hotel will undoubtedly encourage other partners and potential partners to invest in Sierra Leone. For this we are exceedingly grateful.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the re-opening of The Bintumani has become another symbol of this nation's determination; a determination to re-build our infrastructure, and boost our morale, after the eleven-year long rebel campaign of physical and emotional destruction. Once again, we have sent a message to those who w ere bent on destroying everything in their path, that we shall continue to rise above the ruins that they have left behind throughout the country. As I said over a year ago at the opening of the new Defence Headquarters at the former Paramount Hotel, my Government is determined to rebuild, renovate or refurbish over time, one by one, every building destroyed or seriously damaged as a result of the rebel war.

I believe this ceremony is also sending a message to those who are prone to vandalizing and pilfering public and even private property, deliberately, just because it belongs to someone else. The message is that we must take pride in the beauty and usefulness of all infrastructure whether they are publicly or privately-owned, or whether they are locally or foreign-owned.

This hotel, like similar facilities, is part of the nation's resources. It is a catalyst of national economic development. Specifically, a hotel of the standard of The Bintumani promotes tourism and business transactions. It brings in badly needed foreign exchange and tax revenue. It creates job opportunities, and boosts production and supply of local goods and services. It also adds to the feeling of national pride that after a sad period in our history, and after more than a decade of destructive tendencies, Sierra Leone can once again boast of world-class hotels that will attract conference delegates, tourists and business people.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, in this connection, I should like to recall the significant step we took recently to revitalize the tourist industry through partnership with the private sector. We embarked on a vibrant promotional and marketing strategy by participating, for the first time in eight years, in the World Travel Market, one of the largest gatherings of stakeholders of the tourist industry in the world. It afforded the Sierra Leone delegation an opportunity to make substantive contacts with major tour operators, travel agents and other investors, and pave the way for re-opening Sierra Leone as a tourist destination.

Let me reassure the business community here at home and abroad that Government will continue to maintain a liberal economic policy that is based on the promotion of private enterprise and public/private partnerships.

It now gives me great pleasure to formally re-open The Bintumani, our new super-star hotel. I thank you all.