Security and Safety at the Sierra Leone Ports Authority SLPA, top the ongoing modern transformation policies by the current SLPA management. These are the watchwords of the astute General Manager, Dr. Abdulai Fofana.
Since he took up office, his management has made considerable inroads in security and safety at the Freetown Port and other network ports of the SLPA, namely the River Ports of Nitti and Pepel.
These developments could not be unconnected to two key strategies: SLPA’s coordinated security and safety plans with stakeholders in the port operations on maritime security and safety and the review of the clearance processes at the Freetown Port taking into consideration physical security and safety.
Upon assuming office, his management held series of consultative meetings with stakeholders including the National Revenue Authority (NRA) and other ports’ stakeholders, including the Sierra Leone Police, Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Navy Wing and other security personnel. During these meetings, an array of security issues were discussed including, operating procedure on the provision and management of security at the port, the role of SLPA Investigation branch on incidence or security matters at the port, entering of security personnel into Port, security training for all security personnel working or assigned to the port, the mode of un-stuffing of containers, deployment of armed personnel at vessels at the port and host of others.
During one of these engagements Dr. Abdulai Fofana urged stakeholders to complement the work of each other to ensure a safe and secured clearance processes at the port in tandem with international best practices.
“Security at the port is key in the clearance processes due to external consequences on ports that do not comply with international security best practices”, Dr Fofana emphasized.
He further commended his management team for the considerable strides made to upgrade security at the port; referencing the Authority’s security pass mark on the International Port Security assessment few years back.
Dr Fofana and his deputy, Yankuba Bio inherited a port security structure that was in urgent need for rapid reforms. Against this backdrop, a committee headed by SLPA Deputy General Manager, Yankuba Askia Bio was set up, to review the security plan to match up with international Port security and safety.
The committee urged stakeholders to review all port activities related to security including the existing clearance processes at the port, taking into considerations international security and safety best practices.
SLPA is a signatory to International Security Port Safety (ISPS) code. So far the Authority has made considerable strides in the security arrangements of the Freetown port and other network ports to match up with International security best practices. As a result of these strides, the Sierra Leone Ports Authority was awarded a pass mark by officials of United States Coast Guards for international security compliance.
SLPA Security Manager Eustace Rogers, urged stakeholders to maintain the port security status quo. He warned against the port being put into the World maritime advisory list, a situation that would attract major premium on ships coming into country.
In the emergency security engagements, stakeholders discussed the provision of security at the Port, un-stuffing of containers, over boarding on vessels and unaccredited security personnel at the port. After intensive deliberations, the meeting made the following recommendations:
- Formation of standard operating procedures on the provision and management of security at the port;
- Investigation branch of SLPA to follow up with incidences or security matters reported to the Sierra Leone Police for investigation and prosecution were necessary;
- All security personnel entering the port must be accredited by SLPA;
- A correspondence be sent to the Ministers of Defense and Internal Affairs informing the Ministers on the operating procedures and access control mechanism of military and police personnel entering the port (restricted)
- Security training be conducted for all security personnel working and or assigned to the port;
- Un-stuffing of container should be done in the presence of SLPA, NRA, the Consignee and the Agent and any other such agency representative as the manifest of the cargo demands;
- Armed personnel be deployed to vessels within the Freetown waters until a vessel sails off in the high sea;
- SLPA informs the Navy on vessels that need armed personnel (military and police) on board;
- All clearing Agents should be registered and licensed with ACFA and fully downed PPEs and valid Port Passess on entrance into the port;
- ITS submits monthly security report to SLPA for ISPS monitoring analysis.
These recommendations have greatly beefed up the security and safety at the ports in tandem with the modern transformation policy ongoing.