Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 October 2020:
Yesterday Thursday, president Dr Julius Maada Bio commissioned four inshore patrol boats at the White Man’s Bay Navy Headquarters in Murray Town, Freetown.
Speaking at the ceremony to mark the occasion, Commander of the Maritime Wing, Captain Navy Philip Juana, said that the role of the Navy is to protect the territorial waters of Sierra Leone and its ecosystem, adding that the task is difficult to perform because the military wing does not have the necessary platform to effectively function.
He explained that the boats have arrived at the right time and will be used to protect the country’s waters.
Chief of Defense Staff, Lieutenant-General Sullay Ibrahim Sesay, spoke of his profound appreciation to the government and people of South Korea donating the boats to Sierra Leone.
He noted that the general peace and maintenance of the rule of law within the territorial waters of Sierra Leone has been undermined by piracy, sea robbery, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“To that fact, I would like to stress that the gifted patrol crafts will leverage the flexibility of our Maritime Wing to switch between the two principal roles in supporting all national efforts at achieving our defense and developmental aspirations,” he explained.
While handing over the inshore water patrol crafts, representative of the South Korean Ambassador, Mr. Kim Sung Nyeon, commended President Bio for his strong leadership, and his government’s tremendous success in the fight against Covid-19.
“And now, Korea is proud to deliver four speedboats to Sierra Leone. It is our hope that today’s contribution will not only help Sierra Leone’s effort to build up its maritime capabilities, but it will also make our friendship grow stronger,” he noted.
Addressing the ceremony, president Julius Maada Bio said that as a nation, Sierra Leone is contending with large scale plunder of her marine resources through illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
He noted that within the country’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone alone, such illegal, unregulated, and unreported looting by foreign vessels, is estimated to be costing Sierra Leone over 26 million dollars in revenue loss, thousands of jobs, loss of livelihoods for coastal and other communities that could otherwise benefit from a flourishing fishing industry, and great shortage of fish on the local market.
“There is a threat to food security, livelihoods, economic development, and sustainable fisheries management that our small nation can ill-afford.
“Add this to the millions of dollars lost to other such illegal activities as tax evasion; under-reporting of fish catch, and overfishing of our waters that degrade our marine environment and strip local fishing communities of their livelihoods, and the real cost of these illegal acts by illegal foreign vessels mounts,” the president said.
He emphasised that the country can no longer afford the cost of such criminal activities including – unregulated immigration, contraband smuggling, narcotics, human trafficking, robbery at sea, and sea piracy.
“These collectively undermine the rule of law and the steady economic gains we are making as a nation.
“I must also note that our brave men and women of the Sierra Leone Navy and members of the maritime agency are first responders in search and rescue operations when boats are stranded or stricken at sea. We cannot afford to lose precious lives in more sea accidents.
“Sierra Leone truly appreciates the Republic of Korea’s commitment to the development goals outlined in Sierra Leone’s Medium-Term National Development Plan. I, therefore, thank the Government and People of The Republic of Korea through Your Excellency, Mr. Lee-in Tae,” he said.
The President assured that Sierra Leone would also commit to working within the Korea-Africa Framework of Cooperation, 2017-2021, in order to enhance cooperation on trade, manufacturing, industrial development, agriculture, telecommunications, human resource development, science and technology, infrastructural development, and the blue economy, among others.
“Sierra Leone truly appreciates the Republic of Korea’s commitment to the development goals outlined in Sierra Leone’s Medium Term National Development Plan.
“I also want to thank the leadership of the Ministry of Defence for their relentless efforts at augmenting the capacity and training of our armed forces. I thank you for your commitment to working towards achieving my Government’s goal of revitalizing the Joint Maritime Committee (JMC) and implementing effective and sustainable surveillance and security systems in Sierra Leone’s waters,” president Bio concluded, as he officially commissioned the four inshore patrol crafts into immediate service.
This President and his rag tag bunch of whacked-out criminals had me rolling on the floor with uncontrollable laughter in tears just by making glaringly clear how delusional and wet behind the ears they really are.(lol) Goodness gracious! Gentlemen – four itsy-bitsy, tiny patrol boats in the tumultuous high seas hunting down rogue vessels and their iron-willed, inflexible crew of fish pirates plundering our oceans is an undertaking of the highest risk in which precious lives can be snuffed out like candles in a storm in the twinkle of an eye. Answer – who are these audacious people that see absolutely nothing wrong in insulting our intelligence by asking us to overlook the obvious flaws and deficiencies intricately involved in this whole ill-advised exercise?
And who are those dull-eyed dummies gladly receiving such an unseemly indecorous gift with enthusiasm and joy? Ho ho ho, there you go – Koreans that have been busily plundering our oceans for over half a century, absconding in glee remorselessly with deleted fish stocks, rare lobsters, shrimps and squids totalling hundreds of millions of dollars in estimation, have suddenly become transformed overnight from Brigantine Pirates into Good Samaritans? Please don’t give me that – don’t even try to give me that!
I said it before, now let me now reiterate – if you believe in nothing of value and substance, then you will surely fall for anything – a thirsty desert dog lacks discrimination therefore will drink anything, even from a rain puddle full of debris and sand – fresh clean water doesn’t exist it says. The SLPP totally lacks good sense, they are nothing but loud-mouths who blow trumpets when it is not needed, yet are as silent as a referees loud whistle when the game has been declared finally over.(lol)
Boats too small for the job and I don’t see weapons on them. Most of the illegal foreign vessels are quite large and sophisticated with radar and other defense mechanisms. Strangely enough many of the illegal activities are by Asian trawlers.
Pirate fishing in the waters of the three MANO river union countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone coast: a combined lost income of 143 million dollars annually. Million of people along these coastal communities make their living out of fishing in small boats that can’t compete with the big fleet of foreign trawlers from the Asia Pacific region. It is good that Korea donated this small boats to our navy. But they are no match to the big shipping trawlers that is stealing our fish stock to feed the Chinese Market. And due to the weaknesses of these states, fish stocks are depleting faster, due to these unchecked foreign fishermen. And majority of the fishing trawlers engaged in this illegal activity, are from China and some Asian and European countries. Despite international maritime laws that recognised the 200 miles of waters geography of these countries
Miatta Abu, you have a point; that’s why I have many more questions in addition to the ones I have asked. Implicitly your line of reasoning can be summed up in an analogical question: how can one put a hyena in charge of guarding goats? To me the boats look too small for them to have an impact. President Bio and his sailors seem to have been hoodwinked by the Koreans and Chinese who consider Africans as brain dead. The problem our leaders have is that they want everything on the cheap. Well most of the time when something is cheap it is fraught with buts and ifs.
President Bio needs to put on his thinking hat. Manning our territorial waters carries global political undertones. Why didn’t President Bio turn to the West for help knowing that they would do anything to thwart Korean/Chinese influence in Africa? I know that South Korea is friendly with the West but in global politics it is about the pursuit of national interests – no emotions or sentimentalities.
I bet the situation will remain like mutandis mutatis that is as it was in the past. Most of the boats exploiting our marine resources are owned by Chinese and Korean sailors. China is not only engaged in exploiting our fishes but is also busy carting away sand from our shores. Sherbro Island (Bonthe) and small Islands are sinking because of the removal of sand that is exported to China for building artificial Islands in the south china sea.
This sand mining started under president Koroma and I thought that president Bio being an indigene of Bonthe would stop this practice. But how wrong I was.
The idea is brilliant but more details are needed. How well equipped are the boats to engage foreign vessels fishing illegally in our waters to enable our sailors to hold their own in a fight? How long can they stay out at sea without needing fresh supplies of food and other necessities? Do the boats have the capacity to tow an illegal fishing trawler to port? Are trained personnel in place for the maintenance of the boats? Has the necessary infrastructure been built for commanders to keep track of the boats while they are at sea?
I could go on to with more questions but my final question for the moment is – how honest and patriotic are our sailors not to fall prey to corruption where the captain of a seized vessel bribes them with a few dollars for the release of his vessel? We cannot hide from the fact that corruption is rife in our country, that’s why the white paper has condemned former ministers to a stressful life. Who do we trust? Oh, how much did the boats cost us?