Claim: A report has gone viral, claiming that passengers travelling by air to Sierra Leone will start paying $165 more in taxes from December 1.
Verdict: False, a $165 new tax has not been approved by the government on air travellers, according to the Ministry of Transport and Aviation.
Passenger volume to Sierra Leone is low compared to other countries in the region. Still, this year, the government, through a private venture, completed a brand new terminal which was supposed to attract more flights to the country.
However, there have been complaints about the high cost of taxation for travellers using the Lungi International Airport, the country’s only airport.
Last week, news started circulating that the government has decided to add $165 extra tax for passengers. As expected, it provoked heated conversation on both traditional and social media.
A popular blogger posted it on Facebook six days ago. The claim was also widely circulated on other social media channels like WhatsApp. Following the post, Sierra Loaded did a story where the Hospitality Association raised major concerns about how bad this could be for their industry.
DUBAWA checked thewebsite of the Ministry of Transport. The platform has not been updated in a while, so it was impossible to get any credible information on this subject.
However, the Ministry of Information debunked the claim on behalf of the Transport and Aviation Ministry. A short statement on its Facebook page stated: “…the aforementioned information is fake and misleading.”
To further verify this, DUBAWA contacted at least two travellers who have travelled into the country in the last week.
Ebenezer Palm Akuetteh is a Ghanaian who returned to Sierra Leone last weekend after spending weeks in Accra.
“I did not pay anything extra. I only paid the $25 security fee which they charge at the airport,” he said, adding he had no idea of the new $165 airport tax rumour.
Mohamed Murtala Kamara is a Sierra Leonean returning from the US this week. He said he heard the rumour but was unsure when the new tax would occur.
“I heard the rumour, but I was unsure when it would come into effect. However, I paid just the $25 airport security fee they normally demand,” Kamara told DUBAWA.
Kamara said he had friends who have already believed the rumour, adding that he has even given them more justification to travel to the country through Guinea.
Fajah Barrie is a journalist who also travelled out of the country this week. He said he only paid a $25 security fee equivalent to Le575.
According to the Ministry of Transportation and Aviation, a $165 new tax has not been approved by the government on air travellers in and out of Sierra Leone.