TWELVE MONTHS IN OFFICE ANNIVERSARY OF DR ABDULAI FOFANA AND MR YANKUBA ASKIA BIO

TWELVE MONTHS IN OFFICE ANNIVERSARY OF DR ABDULAI FOFANA AND MR YANKUBA ASKIA BIO

Dr. Abdulai Fofana and Mr Yankuba Askia Bio were appointed as General Manager (GM) and Deputy General Manager (DGM) of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority respectively in September 2018. Their appointments were part of President Bio’s call for a functional and structural transformation of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority particularly the Freetown Port. Since their appointments, the new management team has flagged several structural reforms geared towards perfecting the operations of the port to a cadre of excellence in the sub-region.

Inundated with exemplary leadership aptitude and character, the pace of institutional discipline, compliance to work ethics, enhancing trust with business partners and improving staff welfare has improved significantly since they took up office. As the clock tick towards twelve months of their leadership in office, the GM and DGM have consented to reflect and review their service to the nation through the Sierra Leone Port Authority, one of Sierra Leone’s fastest-growing and transforming institutioning tandems with the vision of His Excellency, The President, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio’s New Direction Philosophy.

In this regard, the cardinal areas of the review will focus on:

i. Corporate Image, Infrastructure and face-lifting

ii. Security & Safety

iii. fiscal discipline & Revenue Mobilization

iv. stakeholders’ engagement

v. staff welfare and Training

On the 26th September 2018, the new Management held its maiden meeting with staff and resolved to address among other things, the renowned financial leakages characterized by the Authority over the years. Dr Fofana and his deputy Mr Bio entreated staff members to take advantage of their open-door policy and cooperate with their administration to positively change service delivery within and outside the Authority.

Consequent to the current fiscal regime instituted by the Fofana and Bio led administration, on the 14th November, 2018 – Management established a Fuel Management System (FMS) to control fuel allocation for the running of its generators and vehicles. This development dramatically decreased management’s expenditure on fuel by 50%Part of the solution was to replace the old-fashioned fuel pump to a modern NP pump in compliance with environmental requirement.

In addition to the ongoing reforms, the Authority has been in touch with Bolloréto take advantage of a new 6MHZ Plant to connect to the grid which will cut down on Electricity charges and a consensus has been reached by the two partners; the project is ongoing.

The General Manager notes with weighty concern that when they took office; the Authority was in a “financial crisis” reflecting the general economic situation in the country. Almost twelve months down the road, the Authority has revived its financial position substantially considering the fiscal discipline measures implemented so far.

Notwithstanding this position, the Authority continues to call on the Presidency to look into its requests for part concession fee to be paid to the Authority to assist the Authority to undertake and implement investments programs and repairs.

Corporate Image and Face-lifting

Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA) commonly called ‘Water Quay’ over the years serves as the depot for excessive and unwanted labour and branded as the oxford for corrupt practices in the country. This image is a common place in the minds of Sierra Leoneans, thus, a major source to amass unexplained wealth.

This has been the brand and model of doing business in the Authority for several decades, an essential factor that ledto it being privatized shifting its traditional functions from a service port to a landlord port.

Despite the chronic danming image of the Authority, doing business in the Sierra Leone Ports Authority today gives one the pleasure for a second time. The management is cascading the locking of leakages at a pace that has improved services in the Authority significantly, and is perpetually looking out for means to improve the ease of doing business in the Authority. This is one hallmark of the

Fofana and Bio led administration of the Authority.

12th November, 2018. Upon assumption of office, Management saw the need to facelift the Authority. In this regard it embarked on a prodigious facelift of the Administrative building which has starved for maintenance and renovation for years. The Administrative building has been rebranded and postulates as a fine eye view structure.

16th November 2018. Repairs conducted by Management at the Kissy and Targrin terminals have changed the outlook of the two terminals significantly making business safe for pedestrians and other users.

17th November, 2018. The ‘Exit Road’ leading to Cline Town was paved by Management due to perpetual constrains faced by transporters and the risk of goods. This accomplishment has restored confidence and trust in business people, eliminating fear for the loss of goods. The main gate was also restored and the fallen fence repaired and secured with barb wire.

November 23rd, 2018- the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio officially commissioned the Seaport Terminal Expansion project at Queen Elizabeth II Quay.  President Bio acknowledged the work of Bolloré Group of Companies in scaling up the volume of operations at the port and also meeting their cooperate social responsibility to surrounding communities within their concession area. The president emphasized that his government will continue to support trade, investment and mutual relations that would benefit Sierra Leone. 

Dr. Abdulai Fofana, on the other hand, assured President Bio that SLPA will continue to ensure that the private Port operators provide satisfactory service to customers and efficiently manage and operate the port facilities and fulfil their contractual obligations in the best interest of the country. This is a major project for Sierra Leone as it contributes to enhance the potential of the natural bay and maximize its business opportunities. Details of the project include the construction of a quay extension of 270 metres to a depth of 13 metres, in addition to the existing 707 metres, creating a median of 3.5 hectares, and the establishment of a power plant dedicated to the terminal. Two gantry cranes are installed to operate in the port thereby significantly improving productivity of the Port of Freetown.

The new and ultramodern dock accommodates larger vessels up to 6,000 TEU, capacity space to accommodate up to 750,000 TEUs compared to pre-construction operations which only delivered 90,000 TEUs.

In spite of the development highlighted above, a multipurpose building has been constructed at the Kissy Ferry Terminal which accommodates a car park and offices.

.December 2018- Repair works on the fallen handrails at the Kissy and Targrin terminals has been completed. The handrails were faced with neglect in rehabilitation works and hence some portion of them had fallen off, rendering some portion of thejetty unsafe for vehicles and pedestrians. The new management has carried out work on erecting and painting of the fallen handrails.

Security & Safety

February 21, 2019- the general workforce of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority and its operators engaged in a simulation muster drilling at Queen Elizabeth II Quay in Freetown. This periodic exercise is for security preparedness at the Port and to be able to respond to threats and other security emergencies contributing to the Ports performance and ranking of the ISPS.

March 13, 2019 – Management on Wednesday 13thMarch hosted a team of military personnel from the United States of America and Canada Coast Guards and Navy at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay on Obangame Express 2019 training on security and safety. Sixty security personnel were trained and certified as security experts for the port. This capacity has increased security inspection at the port and decreased security threat for goods and port users.

The Military personnel lead; Kyle Krieger commended the security personnel trained and re-echoed that the trained men and women will curb security threats in the port and ensure safety for business and investors and locals around the precincts of the Port.

March 20, 2019 – the usual Simulation Muster Drilling at  Queen Elizabeth II attracted Military personnel from the United States of America and Canadian Navy and Coast Guards.

The US and Canadian Military Personnel Team were facilitating training of the country’s security sector including port security and safety.

The Port Management is prioritizing safety and security and it has reviewed all its instruments to meet the international benchmarks on Port safety and security.

The simulation muster drill is a component of the International Port Security and safety best practices which is mandatory to all seaports in the world.

April 2, 2019- The United States of America Coast Guards engaged the Sierra Leone Ports Authority on International Safety and Port Security (ISPS) code compliance at various facilities at the Freetown port.

SLPA management has placed premium on safety and security to march up with international port security and safety standards by reinforcing security personnel review safety and security protocols currently operational.

Given the preceding, the Ministry of Transport and Aviation commended the management of the Authority and the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration following an impressive report from the United States Coast Guards on the security level at Queen Elizabeth II Quay. The Ministry maintained that SLPA under its supervision would continue to comply with all the international instruments on security and safety. Specifically, the areas improved include: construction of perimeter fence, security screening and searching, personnel strength and a host of others.

Stakeholders’ engagement

25th October 2018. The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Transport and Aviation made familiarization tour to the management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority. The management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority outlined series of challenges faced by the administration including the absence of a legal framework to recognize the port as a landlord, inadequate funds to run management, land encroachment on SLPA properties.

30th November, 2018. The Management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority hosted a team of personnel from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on maritime and port security compliance. The team’s mission in Sierra Leone is to audit the IMO instructions on port and maritime security and safety signed by the government of Sierra Leone which the Authority is in full compliance.

5th October, 2018.The effort to sanitize the working environment led Management to declare 5thOctober 2018 as a general cleaning day for the Authority and its environs. Management emphasized the importance of a cleaned port community for safe and secured operations. They also commended the youth for supporting the cleaning exercise and President Bio’s agenda to transform the country to a safe business environment.

19th September, 2018. In terms of strengthening sector coordination with other MDA’s, Management hosted the new Managing Director of the Sierra Leone National Shipping Company held a strategic partnership meeting at the SLPA Conference room to create synergies and identify areas for further collaboration.

Following the above, management held their maiden meeting with operators and agreed on clear working terms and processes to effect reforms in the operations of the Port.

February 1, 2019- the Management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority hosted a contingent of military officers from the Horton Military Academy at Queen Elizabeth II Quay on a security study visit. Impressed with the port transformation and the hospitality accorded to them, a plaque was given to the SLPA Deputy General Manager in appreciation of the Authority’s effort in transforming and rebranding public perception about doing business at the Port.

In March 27, 2019- The Management signed an agreement with the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations and other key stakeholders including the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, the National Commission for Privatization, the Sierra Leone Ports Authority Senior Staff Association and the Sierra Leone Dock Workers Union to settle all outstanding payment due former and current SLPA employees inherited from the past administration.

The outstanding payment has been a historic matter spanning from 2011 when the past administration redundant workers without due process of redundancy, the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority.

Just six months upon taking the management of the  Authority, the new  management pledged to settle all outstanding unpaid severance and termination benefits  inherited from the past management former staff and current staff of the Authority.

SLPA General Manager on behalf of the institution remarked: “Upon assuming office few months ago the issue of staff outstanding redundancy payment was presented to the management. Being a consultative management who values its staff, we engaged stakeholders to look at the merit and demerit of the matter. We concluded that there were procedural errors in the whole exercise. The workers’ claim was genuine. We have agreed to settle the matter once and for all.”

The new management has restored staff confidence as one that is poised to better the lives, and the livelihood of workers and the general staff in return expressed their determination to provide the necessary support to management.

April 242019- The Board of Directors of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority visited the three concession facilities at the Freetown Port namely; the Freetown Terminal Limited Container area, Nectar Break-bulk Sierra Leone Terminal area, and the Holland Shipyards -Sierra Leone vessel maintenance yard on a familiarization mission on their operations. The visit opened a platform for dialogue between concessions and the Board of Directors, which has strengthened the working relationship.

April 30, 2019 – SLPA management hosted students of the Sierra Leone Peacekeeping and Law Enforcement Academy. SLPA Deputy General Manager Mr Yankuba Bio introduced the status of the port to the visitors as being a landlord port with its operations privatized to Bolloré and Nectar.

The visiting students are the first set of students who pursued and a diploma in Security and Safety discipline at the Sierra Leone Peacekeeping and Law Enforcement Academy at Hasting. The visit was concluded with a tour to the facilities and installations at the port by the Operations and Monitoring Manager, Foday Manso Koroma.

August, 2019 -The General Manager of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority Dr. Abdulai Fofana engaged IALA Technical Mission to the discuss the growing business in the Ports of Sierra Leone and plans for a regional hub in the country taking into consideration its strategic location.

According to discussions between the two partners, Sierra Leone stands a better chance to benefit from a technical needs assessment that will determine the status of Aton Service provision within the country’s waters with a report detailing conclusions and recommendations.

In June, 2019- Dr Fofana, General manager SLPA led a delegation to the 40th Council meeting and conference of the Port Management Association of West & Central Africa (PMAWCA) in Togo Port, Lome.

The 40th Council Meeting assembled c-level executives of all member ports of PMAWCA, port operators and industry experts to discuss the topical subject of “The role of the State in port and maritime economy- Experiences of PMAWCA ports compared to Global practices.”

Participating ports had the opportunity to interface with approximately 24 Ports under one roof, meet over 300 delegates Port Authorities and decision makers, Showcase products and services to potential buyers using hands-on demonstrations, position your company as a thought leader in the market, generate lucrative business initiatives, share best practices, develop and strengthen port brands.

June, 2019-The Deputy General Manager of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority led a delegation comprising the Minister of Transport and Aviation, the Minister and Deputy Ministers of Trade and Industry, the Chairman, National Commission for Privatization and representatives of the Sonoco Flour Mill Company on a sight visit at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay Freetown Port on a needs assessment to invest on flour Mill production in Sierra Leone.

The delegations identified an ideal location for the construction of a state of art flour Mill at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay for exporting flour across the sub-region.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry inter alia reported that Sonoco Flour Mill signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Government of Sierra Leone and plans were underway for the establishment of their company’s branch in Freetown. The commencement of its operations in Sierra Leone will boost the country’s economy and reduce the unemployment burden.

In May 22, 2019 -The League of African Development Students (LEADS) described the General Manager of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority, Dr Abdulai Fofana as a patriotic technocrat whose contributions in the world of academia and proficiency in public service delivery are ineffaceable. LEADS made this statement during the official awarding ceremony of Dr. Fofana as a recipient of the League of Africa Development Students Patriotic Personality Award 2019. The award, according to the team based in Nigeria, is an acknowledgment of Dr Fofana’s scholarly contributions and proficiency in public service.

Dr Fofana is a seasoned technocrat, with innovative and contemporary skills to match emerging administrative and business needs, a leader with exemplary character, humbled and selfless.  The team further submitted that the recipient has made dozens of scholarly contributions in his quest to contribute to knowledge and his proficiency in public service is unmatched.

Dr. Abdulai Fofana is Sierra Leonean Resource Economist of International repute. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Master’s Degree in Resource Economics with specialty in macroeconomics and Policy management and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Industrial Economics from the University of Portsmouth.

Under his hegemony, the Sierra Leone Ports Authority has witnessed structural and functional transformations in tandem with the vision of his Excellency the President, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio to position the port as a transshipment hub in the sub-region.

Staff welfare & Training

Pursuant to strengthening the Security and safety of doing business in the Authority, in March 5, 2019- Thirty three (33) newly appointed security personnel of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority underwent intensive training on Port security and safety measures using international standards on security and safety for maritime operations as benchmark.

The training was to prepare the new security personnel to face the numerous security challenges at the Port. Dr. Abdulai Fofana underscored the importance of the security sector at the port, observing that “Security at the port should be impermeable. The Port security is an essential aspect of the operations of the port, considering the strategic importance of the port to the country’s economy.”

March 27, 2019-The Management signed an agreement with the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations and other key stakeholders including the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, The National Commission for Privatization, the Sierra Leone Ports Authority Senior Staff Association and the Sierra Leone Dock Workers Union to settle all outstanding payment due former and current SLPA employees inherited from the past administration. The outstanding payment was a historic matter dating from 2011 when the past administration redundant workers without due process of redundancy.

July 16, 2019-The Executives of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress and other stakeholders including the Sierra Leone Ports Authority Senior Staff Association and the Dock Workers Union commended the Management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority as the first phase of payment of ex- employees of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority commenced.

The Vice President of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Alhaji Muctarr Willaims, congratulated the Authority for effecting the first phase of payment which has revived the hopes of ex-employees whose payment will be effected soon. Alhaji Williams adorned ex-SLPA employees for their patient.

The President of the Ports Authority Senior Staff Association and the President of the Dock Workers Union Idrissa Margo Tarawally and Alpha Bundu expressed similar sentiments on SLPA management and other stakeholders including the former Chairman of the National Commission for Privatization (NCP), the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Transport and Aviation.

Conclusion

The Management of SLPA under the leadership of Dr Fofana and Mr. Bio through with supervision from the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) and SLPA Board of Directors will continue to work towards improving services for port stakeholders and its numerous customers to ensure a sound business environment for our international and national investors. The Authority’s on-going reforms will focus on among others:

1. Promote sound and sustainable Financial Discipline Measures–Management has braced up to cut down cost and seal financial leakages

2. Ensure a clean and health hazard free environment –management is working to ensure a clean and hygienic port environment that befits a sound business environment.

3. Efficient Customer Service – ensure that the private Port operators provide satisfactory service to customers, efficiently manage and operate the port facilities and fulfil their contractual obligations in the best interest of the country.

4. As part of improving communications in the Authority, the daily operations of the Authority has moved from paper based to electronic based system.

In addition, management is currently negotiating for the introduction of a Ports Management System that will centralize operations of the Ports and its finances.

5. ICT Service – the new management in collaboration with Bolloré has agreed as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)to improve on the ICT Services at SLPA.

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