A High powered delegation of cross section of the Management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA) has concluded engagements with Sherbro River mining companies including the Sierra Leone Mineral Holding Limited 1 (VIMETCO) and Sierra Rutile Limited (Iluka Mining).
The SLPA delegation held separate meetings with Managements of VIMETCO and Iluka Mining Companies respectively and made site visitations at Port Nitti 1 & 2 where the two companies operate.
The engagements among other things were to establish a platform for dialogue with the mining companies, re-establish SLPA presence at Port Niti 1 & 2, assess its landed property, look at the Cargo Tracking Notes payment for the export of Bauxite and Iron Ore, pilotage and stevedore services and visitation to their mining sites.
SLPA delegation lead and General Manager, Dr Abdulai Fofana said his 23 months old management is poised on structural and functional transformation at the Freetown Port and the River Ports of Niti and Pepel.
Giving the background, Dr. Fofana said the presence of SLPA was well established at Port Niti before the war, and as part of the structural and functional restructuring of his management, they had viewed the re-establishment of The Authority’s presence prudent for the operations of mining companies at the river Port of Niti- an outlet of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority.
Dr. Fofana went on to state that there was a complete absence of dialogue between the Authority and the mining companies at the Sherbro River which resulted to some disagreements including the issue of Cargo Tracking Note payment on export. He therefore called for a platform for dialogue between SLPA and Sherbro River mining companies as the Authority is ready to encourage investment.#
On pilotage, SLPA Deputy General Manager Yankuba Askia Bio said the Authority is concerned about the non-utilization of SLPA pilot on outbound service after loading of consignments. He said the Authority for now only provides inbound services on the arrival of vessels.
SLPA Company Secretary and Head, Legal Affairs, Martin Maada George, Esq observed the non-congenial relations between SLPA and the Sherbro River Mining Companies. He called for an open-ended dialogue to harmonize arrangements on Cargo Trafficking Note tariff, dredging of the Sherbro River Port and compliance to ISPS Code by Stevedore workers.
The Legal luminary urged the mining companies to be mindful of the legal mandate of SLPA to provide outbound pilotage on all SLPA operational areas including Port Niti.
In a similar sentiment, SLPA Harbour Master Kenneth O Jones said the channel to Sherbro Port is in need of buoys to guide vessels through and out of Niti Port. He informed managements of both mining companies that SLPA has engaged Sierra Leone Maritime Administration on the installation of buoys through Sherbro River channel.
On stevedore services, SLPA Operations and Monitoring Manager, Foday Manso Koroma said the Authority is concerned about report of workers of stevedore companies being under the influence of alcohol and other drugs while on duty. He furthered that stevedore companies have paid huge compensation for damages as a result of reckless handling of equipment of mining companies.
VIMETCO General Manager, Basuded Datta and Iluka mining representative, Dominic Hope were concerned about the following: ISPS Code Compliance by stevedore companies in the areas of PPEs and jumping down from barges before landing, COVID-19 hit on the Operations of VIMETCO and Cargo Tracking Note fees on export.
Management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority left Freetown on the 12th August and returned on the 14th August from Niti Port. The Management made visitation to VIMETCO and Iluka mining sites and resolved with the mining companies to hold regular dialogue with mining companies and reestablishment of office space between Niti 1 and Nitti 2.