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Sierra Leone News: Port Authority modernize to help in foreign investment

Abu-Bakr-Bangura

Abu-Bakr-Bangura

Sierra Leone’s Port is transforming into a more modern and efficient entity capable of meeting Sierra Leone’s shipping needs, according to Abu Bakr Bangura, General Manager of the Port Authority. Following a visit to the Port from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) is helping develop the Port, Bangura spoke to reporters about plans for the Port. “We’ve transformed this place,” he said. “It’s sanitized, it’s structured, it’s clean and it’s operational.”
The Port’s expansion has been increasingly helped by foreign investors, among them British company Nectar, which is working on developing the Port’s bulk and breakbulk.
“They have brought in the appropriate resources, equipment. You have cranes, you have machines, you have generators, you have the intellectual and technical capacities. Now we can boast of this port being one of the most efficient in West Africa,” Bangura said.
The Port is now able to accommodate larger sea-going vessels. Bangura noted that Sierra Leone’s location, equidistant between Brazil and Europe, will continue to be a strategic shipping center. The Port will also be able to service landlocked countries like Mali using rivers.
For the past 20 years, according to Bangura, they’ve tried to improve the exit road from the Port, and this has recently been achieved without government funding
“Back in the day, prior to 2010, 2008, we took about five days to discharge one vessel, because we used forklifts that were rented from the private sector and what have you. Today it takes 24 to 30 hours to do the same. You will agree with me that’s progress.”
The Port has also recently been restructured as an organization. “We are now a smaller, leaner, meaner organization,” Bangura said. “We have less people, smaller departments, but we’re more efficient.”
According to Bangura, human resources, as much as technical ones, will be necessary to expand the Port.
“We can do all these things with the equipment, everything, but one area we’re working on now is the psychological, the people challenge. How do we transform us as a people, our employees, to have faith in themselves, give them the technical and other resources they need so we can go to the next step.”
Previously, the Port’s operations were more tactical and concerned with day to day concerns than strategic and long-term, Bangura said. Progress and development will require long-term goals, something Bangura said are already a part of workplace culture at the Port.
“All this is in pursuit of actualizing the President’s initiative that you know is going on. His Excellency the President is personally involved. He meets with us twice a week,” Bangura said, adding that the Port’s development also fits with the president’s Agenda for Prosperity.
“I think we can step back and say the Port Authority is going places.”
By Chetanya Robinson
Tuesday September 13, 2016

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