TRANSPORT AND TRADE MINISTRIES HOLD STAKEHOLDERS MEETING WITH CUSTOMS AND PORTS AUTHORITY
BY MAHMOUD KAMARA
CUSTOMS AND EXCISE DEPARTMENT CONFERENCE ROOM, COLLEGE ROAD, CLINETOWN, FREETOWN 5TH JULY, 2021.The Ministry of Transport and Aviation together with the Ministry of Trade and Industry held stakeholders meeting with a cross section of the Management of Customs and Excise Department and the Sierra Leone Ports Authority in a bid to boot their operations and internal challenges.
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Transport and Aviation Honorable Kabineh Kallon welcomed all stakeholders present, noting both Ministries’ interest in finding ways to address the issues raised by both parties in discharging their duties at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay during the last meeting held with them and the general concerns of clients in the clearing of goods and services out of the Sea Ports especially at the exit gate.
According to Honorable Kabineh Kallon, their decision to meet again with both parties, came as a result of the Ministries’ last stakeholders meeting in a bid to collectively salvage the issues and concerns of Customs and Excise Department and the Sierra Leone Ports Authority’s internal capacity. He cited the two Ministries’ significant role in supervising both Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA) and the Customs and Excise Department (CED) in the area of transport and trade respectively, noting the need for their internal constrains to be amended as quick as possible so that there would be an effective and efficient service delivery in the clearing and forwarding of goods and services at the Sea Ports.
The Commissioner of Customs and Excise Department, Commissioner Abu Kanneh thanked both Ministers for their timely intervention and further lamented on some of their challenges in the area of security bureaucracy, duplication of process, inflation of taxes by some clearing and forwarding agents among others, citing the delay to get clearance from Interpol when certain staff are not around to verify and validate documents for clearing and forwarding of goods and services in and out of the Sea Ports.
In his statement, the General Manager of Sierra Leone Ports Authority, Dr. Abdulai Fofana thanked both Ministers for their proactive and astute leadership role, and further explained the traditional functions of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority in handling or tracking of Cargoes and containers to make them safe before they go in and out of the Ports, noting that the Ports Management as a ‘Landlord’ monitor and regulate Bollor’e Ports in their day to day operations within the Sea Ports to ensure International best practice.
He emphasized the need to uphold and maintain the International standards the Sierra Leone Ports Authority has attained.
He highlighted some of the challenges among others are duplication of efforts, several police officers’ presence at the scanning and other operational areas of the Ports during checking of relevant documents and the exclusion of Sierra Leone Ports Authority Management in the Asycuda system, stressing that the safety and security of the Sea Ports is very paramount.
In his response, the Minister of Transport and Aviation Honorable Kabineh Kallon requested for Sierra Leone Ports Authority Management to interface with the Customs and Excise Department (CED) in the Asycuda system for an effective and efficient service delivery in discharging their duties, noting the need for collaboration with both parties in order to enhance confidence and integrity into the system.