The General Manager of Sierra Leone Ports Authority, Abubakarr Bangura has brought about a lot of development reforms, amist severe challenges he inherited. Core operations have been privatized, with the Port now assuming a landlord status. In this interview, he reveals the secret of the success, the relationship with the private operators and the immediate future of port operations
Q: What are the recent development activities you’re embarked on?
The Authority is moving from a Service Port to a landlord port which would allow private operators to operate cargo handling and maritime related services. The rationale behind the privatization of core port operational services to private operators is to ensure efficiency in cargo handling delivery, improved infrastructural facilities and increase in turnaround time of vessels.
The concessioning of core services and facilities of the port started since 2005 when ferry service was privatized to private operators. This was followed by the concessioned of the
Container Terminal to Bollore in 2011. The Sierra Leone Ports Authority Shipyard, the Marine Slipway, was recently been concessioned to a Dutch company, Holland Shipyards. We have also concessioned the Break-bulk to a British company, Nectar Break-bulk Sierra Leone.
On infrastructure, the Authority is undertaking enormous strides in rehabilitating and constructing structures that are core to its operations.
In Targrin, the construction of a retaining walls and the perimeter fence are completed, the construction of the passenger waiting hall is completed. We have resurfaced the port terminal and dredged the ferry terminals.
The SLPA has privatised the Container Terminal and the Break-bulk area to private concessionaires. What is the relationship with these concessionaires so far and how have they been progressing in the ports.
The relationship between SLPA and the private operators is that of landlord and tenant. So far the relationship is cordial. Both Freetown Terminal Limited (FTL) and Nectar Break-bulk Sierra Leone(NSBT) are required to comply with the tenants of the concessioning agreement and SLPA is required to provide an enabling environment for efficient operations.
On their progression at the port, FTL & NSBT are poised for business in Sierra Leone. To go in-depth, FTL has completed resurfacing of the Container Terminal and the extension of both the container and vehicle stacking yards. Additional they have installed modern ports equipment including the movable crane and the container tracker software. Recently they have signed an agreement to extend the port by constructing additional west-ward of the Queen Elizabeth II Quay. On their part, NSBT has given a facelift to port infrastructure
wise. Besides their modern operational equipment, they have installed a weigh bridge at the port.
What is your vision as you approach the status of a land-lord port?
My vision for the landlord port is to make it effective and efficient in its oversight role and make it a customer friendly port. So far the port has started receiving accolade in terms of
making it a customer friendly and efficient. We have set up a customer Service Hotline, rehabilitated the exit road of the port of Freetown, developed a harmonized process map for clearing of consignments at the port and reconciled reporting format and now working on the establishment of an Electronics Single Window System. We are making the port customer friendly. A customer Services hotline has been setup. The rehabilitation of the exit road has just been completed. Reporting format on the clearing process by stakeholders has been reconciled.
On the hotline services, a preliminary work in a form of customer services feedback survey was undertaken by the Authority to assess customer’s feedbacks on the services and facilities of the port of Freetown. Feedbacks from Ports users concerning importing, exporting and clearing/forwarding goods at the ports were obtained.
Besides these developments, we will cater for a trained and well motivated workforce that will monitor the activities of the concessionaires in the best interest of the country. I will also endeavour to invest resources in not only the training of personnel but also in the construction of more jetties and even another port in the bid to enhance more public/private partnership collaboration.
By and large, the Port of Freetown is strategically located; it is equidistant between Europe and Southern America. Against this background, I foresee the Port of Freetown becoming a trans-shipment hub in the Sub region in the next fifteen years.
What is the current status of SLPA with other regional ports in Africa?
The current status of SLPA in comparism with other ports in the region is work in progress. Most of them fear on well because they had long gone through what we are now doing. Certainly, our status to them is that of a catch up but like I said we are a work in progress. We have requested technical assistance on capacity building from other regional ports through the Port Management Association of West & Central Africa (PMWCA). The process is ongoing. The Ghana Ports & Harbour Authority (GPHA) sent a mission of three officials to the Freetown Port to undertake needs assessment on capacity building. The Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) will dispatch their mission to the Port of Freetown on same. Their reports on the findings will be looked into for onward implementation.
Credit: The News