“We will drive down the time and costs of doing business through the port at Freetown, simplifying and demystifying clearance and export tariffs and processes, and ensuring crucial medical and agricultural supplies get to where they need to be quickly” – Abu Bangura – Ports GM
The general public may not be aware of the fact that one key area in developing the country’s economy with a view to improving revenue generation has been the Sierra Leone Ports Authority. In the past recent years, this transformation and modernization of the Queen Elizabeth Quay with an eye to its expansion, provision of better services and maximized revenue generation has been spearheaded by the General Manager, Abu Bangura.
Another fact is that Sierra Leoneans do not generally like to hear about the successes of people serving in President Koroma’s government. But detractions aside, fairly assessed, Abu Koroma is one of the very committed disciples of President Koroma in his government’s drive towards achieving the Agenda for Prosperity which will be hard to reach without increased revenue generation through the enhanced productivity of all ministries, departments and agencies of government.
Reaching beyond the recent bad press against him that is obviously calculatedly aimed at not only tarnishing his image but discouraging him from doing more, an indefatigable Abu Koroma has been at the helm of very important revolutionary developments at the port for which a highly impressed Chairman of the National Commission for Privatization, Sulaiman Kabba Koroma, during a recent familiarization visit to the port remarked that the ongoing changes at the sea port is unstoppable.
Mr. Kabba commented as such: “The Port is currently undergoing a phenomenal transforming and this transformation is unstoppable.”
The developments include establishment of a customer hotline service; developing of a harmonized process map for clearing consignments at the port; the Electronics Single Window System (ESWS); the ongoing infrastructural projects which include extension of the quay, resurfacing of the terminal, rehabilitation of the exit road, construction of the multipurpose building at the Tagrin Ferry Terminal and installation of fenders and bollards at the quay terminal.
In the bid to make the Freetown port a hub for shipping trade in West Africa, which includes a hundred million British pounds plus extension to the quay, customer satisfaction in terms of efficient service delivery is the primary focus of the management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority.
To actualize this dream, the authority has lined up series of initiatives in collaboration with the President’s Delivery team on the Sierra Leone post-Ebola Recovery plan to foster trade facilitation, create a customer friendly atmosphere and transparency and accountability in the port operational processes and above all to make the port a customer friendly port.
“There was lack of communication between the Ports operators and the customers. This to a very large extent created suspicion in the processes and operational system of the Ports in terms of services delivery,” confessed Abu Bangura.
The General Manager also emphasized on capacity building to meet the challenges of the Landlord Port, whilst urging other stakeholders in port affairs to ensure compliance and sustainability.
Accordingly, a Customer Service and a Help Desk have been set up for customers to call for enquiries and complaints. The need for a customer call centre at the port was obviously taken into consideration in the specialized service the port is offering to the public.
The hotline has both urgent response and referral calls wherein if the call agents for instance do not respond to your call at instant, he/she will refer your call to a superior authority at the port who will furnish them with the necessary information for onward transmission to the caller.
The customers Hotline is an important pillar in the President Recovery priority initiatives assigned to SLPA. Sierra Leone heavily relies on import and the President, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma saw it necessary to including the Ports for such recovery that till help revamp the economy of the country. During the opening ceremony of the awareness rising campaign on customer hotline services, SLPA General Manager, Abu B. Bangura told participants that the Customer Hotline initiative was part of the Presidential Delivery initiatives assigned to the ports to ensure openness and transparency in the Ports operations.
He said the services in intended to break the chain of communication barrier between the operators of the Ports and the customers.
The port is now ISPS code compliance. The port is boasting of sophisticated fire engines that do not only serve the port but the entire Cline Town community.
The port is marching towards the single window of clearing consignments at the port. Preliminary work is ongoing for establishing the Single Window System.This development in terms of customer satisfaction has received wild acclaim.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.