Managing the gateway into Sierra Leone’s economy

THE Sierra Leone Ports and Harbours Authority (SLPHA) was established by Act No. 29 of 2023. It replaces the Sierra Leone Ports Authority which got its powers from the now repealed Ports Act No. 56 of 1964.

As the bona fide gateway into Sierra Leone’s economy, the Authority is entrusted with the critical economic duty of operating, managing, and coordinating the diverse maritime activities within Freetown’s ports and harbours, along the River Ports of Nitty and Pepel. The new legislation empowers the Authority to navigate the complexities of port management, ensuring efficient and strategic facilitation of maritime operations for the nation’s economic development and trade connectivity.

To ensure that the SLPHA was reinvigorated to deliver maritime services optimally in accordance with the new legislation, President Julius Maada Bio appointed Mr Yakuba Askia Bio and Madam Judith Kosseh as its Director General and Deputy Director General respectively. The Director General, who has vast experience in logistics and port operations, has been working harmoniously with his deputy and a team of experienced professionals to broaden the country’s maritime space and attract more vessel calls to the port.

Privatization and global best practice

After several years of running as a full-fledged government agency, the state authorities have succumbed to the realities of modern economic management through a privatization process conducted by National Commission for Privatization. The goal is to follow the globally acknowledged productive and efficient contemporary trends in port management. The result is that the Government of Sierra Leone is now a landlord to credible private sector investors and experts that operate and manage the ports, professionally, on its behalf, in line with global best practice.

In the course of fulfilling its mandate and discharging its duties to government, SLPHA does not operate in isolation. It works in collaboration with several other government agencies, approved private sector service providers and stakeholders including:

    Freetown Terminal Limited -Concessionaire of the Container terminal;

   Nectar Sierra Leone Bulk Terminal Limited- Concessionaire of the non-containerized cargo Terminal;

 Logistics Solutions and Services- cargo tracking Note service providers;

  Customs of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) which serves as Government revenue collector,

 Integrated Trade Services which is the Provider of scanning facility;

  Clearing and Forwarding Agents who serve as Brokers;

  Dock Labour Companies which are suppliers of labourers; and

  Stevedoring Labour Companies which are stevedoring facilities providers.

Ports Facilities

Operations at the ports comprise a whole world of specialized activities which require the huge infrastructure outlays to enable the Port to provide facilities for receiving and handling sea-going vessels, cargo and passenger as well as inland transport vehicles.  Details of what this entails are itemized hereunder:

 Sea-going vessel reception and handling facilities include navigational aids (lighthouse, beacons, radio communication, and radar information), access channels, mooring buoys, tugboats etc.

 Cargo handling facilities include quay aprons, transit storage, warehouses (container yard, open storage area), lifting and transfer equipment (container handlers, tractor-trailer sets, lift trucks).

 Inland transport vehicle facilities include access roads, inland roads and parking lots Port Services The port provides services for receiving and handling vessels, cargo as well as providing conservancy services.

 Sea-going vessel services include all activities that involve pilotage, towage, lighterage, mooring/unmooring, salvage etc.

 Cargo handling services include stevedoring, receipt and delivery of cargo, transit storage, warehousing, packing/ repacking, labeling/ relabeling, tallying/ checking, stuffing/ unstuffing of containers etc.

 Conservancy services including navigation and trade information, communication, fire-fighting, security/policing, ship waste reception, bunkering, fresh water supply, ship repairs etc.

Harbours Facilities

These facilities are mainly structures and buildings where operations are carried out as well as large, heavy-duty equipment for movement of cargo and sundry materials:

   Docks/Piers: These are structures extending into the water, providing a platform for ships to dock. Docks are typically equipped with mooring facilities for vessels.

   Warehouses: Storage facilities near the harbor to store goods awaiting shipment. They ensure efficient handling of cargo and can include cold storage for perishable items.

   Cranes: Essential for lifting heavy cargo on and off ships. They come in various types, such as gantry cranes or mobile cranes, depending on the harbor’s needs.

   Berths: Designated areas along the harbor where ships are moored. Each berth is equipped with facilities for secure anchoring and loading/unloading operations.

   Navigational Aids: Including lighthouses, buoys, and beacons to guide ships safely into the harbor, especially during adverse weather conditions or low visibility.

   Breakwaters: Protective structures built along the coastline to reduce the impact of waves and create a sheltered area within the harbour for safer navigation.

   Tugboats: Small, powerful boats used to assist larger vessels in maneuvering within the harbor. They help guide ships safely into and out of berths.

   Bunkering: Facilities for refueling ships, ensuring they have the necessary fuel for their journeys.

   Customs and Inspection Facilities: Offices and areas for customs inspections, ensuring compliance with import/export regulations and safety standards.

   Security Measures: Surveillance systems, fencing, and personnel to safeguard the harbour against unauthorized access or potential threats.

Harbours Services

Harbour services encompass a range of crucial activities focused on facilitating maritime operations within ports. These services typically include vessel berthing and unberthing, cargo handling, pilotage, tugboat assistance, navigational aids maintenance, and overall port security.

The Sierra Leone Ports and Harbours Authority, has been living up to its duty to the nation’s economy. With the devolution of some its functions to private sector operators, the Management and staff are fired up to concentrate on the all-important job of creating the regulations and superintending all activities at the ports on behalf government; and most important, to pull in the maximum income and development resources into the country’s coffers.

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