Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 June 2018:
Last week was a busy schedule for Sierra Leone’s head of the National Commission for Privatisation – Mr. Umaru Napoleon Koroma, who visited the Lungi International Airport and the Water Quay seaport in Freetown, to gain full insight into how they are both being run.
During his elections campaign last March, president Bio promised to scrap the $400 million loan agreement between China and the Koroma government for the construction of a new airport, which effectively would have meant abandoning Lungi airport, despite previous governments having spent over $100 million since 2001 in redevelopment. Lungi airport is here to stay, said Maada Bio.
Last week, president Bio signalled his commitment to make good on its promise, when the chairman of the privatisation commission met respectively with the management of the airport and seaport to discuss strategies aimed at improving effectiveness and efficiency, as well as streamlining their operations.
Sierra Leone’s economy needs a major boost, and to do so will require massive increase in foreign direct investments estimated at over $500 million.
But investments can only come if the country’s international airport and seaport are operating to international standards.
Last Tuesday 19th June, the Chairman of the National Commission for Privatisation saw at first-hand the ongoing work being done to complete the Ports Expansion project, which is being carried out by the Freetown Terminal Limited (Bollore).
Bollore has invested over US$120 million to construct a new quay and install 8 ultra-modern STS cranes, a 6 megawatts power plant and other facilities that will transform the Freetown Port into a world class shipping facility for the sub-region. The berth expansion project is expected to be completed in September this year.
Mr. Napoleon Koroma inspected other concessioners, including the Nectar Bulk Terminal Limited (NSBT) who are also investing US$4 million to renovate and equip the Bulk and Break Terminal at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay.
He visited the Dangote Cement factory where he gained first-hand knowledge of the intricacies surrounding their operations.
Speaking about the Ports Expansion project, Mr Koroma said: “I believe we are all in agreement that progress has been made and it is my intention to make things better than they were….the president is very clear about his vision….it’s all about delivery and there must be no more business as usual”.
The General Manager of Bollore, Captain Fabigan Kokan, said that over 70% of his workforce are Sierra Leoneans, adding that his company will train over 30 locals on the operations and maintenance of the new equipment at the new quay.
The Sierra Leone Ports Authority is among a list of state enterprises on the first schedule of the National Commission for Privatisation Act of 2002 – to be reformed, restructured and privatised.
Prior to visiting the Freetown Water Quay last Tuesday, the Chairman of the National Commission for Privatisation (NCP), went to Lungi International Airport to familiarize himself with the operations and management of the airport.
Meeting with the airport Management, Mr. Napoleon Koroma briefed staff about the core principles of president Bio’s New Direction Agenda – disciplined leadership, professionalism and delivery.
These core principles he said, are critical in realizing the president’s vision for a stable economy. “If we are to achieve the President’s manifesto commitments, we must abide by these three core principles in our everyday activities…it will never be business as usual and I expect each and every one of you to remain professional,” he told the airport management.
He said he had chosen Lungi Airport for his maiden visit to parastatals under his Commission’s supervision, because he believes that Lungi Airport remains critical in promoting the country’s economic development.
The NCP Chairman said that he will inform the President about the pressing challenges facing the airport.
The General Manager of the Sierra Leone Airports Authority, Idriss Nabie Fofanah spoke about the progress that has been achieved in improving services at the Airport, as well as the huge challenges facing the airport management, such as electricity supply.
The NCP Chairman, accompanied by the Executive Secretary, Mohamed Alie Sesay and Sector Analyst, Sia Asgil were taken on a tour of the airport facilities, including the passenger lounge, check- in-area, duty free shops, power generator house, fire depot, and the Presidential Lounge.
He also met with the management of the air cargo management – Sky Handling Partners, and promised to have deeper engagement with them regarding their services and the fees they levy.