Askia Bio brings sanity to SLPA

The management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority is currently on structural and functional transformation. This transformation has been attributed to so many players, and one of which is the current Deputy General Manager, Yankuba Askia Bio.

Mr.  Bio was appointed in September 2018 as the Deputy General Manager to Dr. Abdulai Fofana, the General Manager, Sierra Leone Ports Authority. His appointment was in place, taking into considerations his experience in the Public-Private Sector, especially in the maritime sector. Before his appointment as the Deputy General Manager, Mr. Bio served as the country’s Procurement Manager for Bollore -Freetown Terminal Limited, a multi-national company with a sound reputation in the port and shipping industry. He served in this capacity with diligence and hard work.

He has been very instrumental to both the management and Board of Directors of the Authority in the port’s transformation drive to actualize President Bio’s vision of a transformed port.

Few weeks after his appointment on the 14th November, 2018, with management’s consent, Mr. Bio established a Fuel Management System (FMS) to control fuel allocation for the running of its generators and vehicles. This development dramatically decreased management’s expenditure on fuel by 50%.

As part of the Authority’s drive to ensure a friendly and healthy atmosphere in the Freetown Port operational areas, Mr. Bio, on behalf of SLPA Management, facilitated the partnership with Port stakeholders to pave the Freetown Port Buffer Zone area and to construct additional drainages within the Freetown Port to make the port dust-free and mitigate potential flooding occurrences.

Traffic decongestion at the Freetown Port is increasingly making progress. The Port Management, through the Deputy General Manager, Mr. Bio, and a cross section of SLPA Management, continue to engage stakeholders to reduce the emerging congestion challenges at the Freetown Port. In his statement with stakeholders in the Port operations, Mr. Bio said the Freetown Port has experienced delays in recent times in the Vessel turnaround time and congestion, due to increase in the volume of cargoes coming in at the Port. He said SLPA is concerned about these developments and recommended the setting up of a Committee to look into the causes of congestion at the Freetown port.

In a follow-up meeting with stakeholders, Mr. Bio again, with a cross section of SLPA Management on 23rd July 2020, engaged stakeholders to discuss the Committee’s findings and challenges for the emerging congestion at the Freetown Port.

The following were identified: delays in completing documentation by Shipping Agents, packing of empty vehicles around the vicinity of the weighing bridge, breakdown of vehicles in the precincts of the Port, the proliferation of auction containers and containers for office purposes and lateness of some stakeholders in the Port operations to report for work, among many others.

Following intensive monitoring exercise and deliberations, the following were resolved: strict disciplinary measures be instituted against stakeholders’ officials who do not report for duty on time; checks to be done at the entrance points of the Port before entering of vehicle for loading or offloading; that there should be no loading without complete documentation; Port operators should ensure that Passes are renewed monthly; that Container’s seal should not be cut-off in the absence of Customs officer(s) and that the following documents must be available before loading: CVC, Delivery order, Packing List, Scanning Receipt and a  host of others.

SLPA management is ensuring that Standing Operating Procedures (SOPS) on COVID-19 in all its operational areas are adhered to. To Ensure Implementation, the Deputy General Manager and team held discussions with the Ferry operators on awareness raising and robust additional mechanisms, in line with the Authority’s SOP on COVID-19.

Ferry Terminals Temporary Preventive Measures on COVID-19:

1. Thermometer test on the entry and exit points of the terminals;

2. Hand washing at the Terminals’ entry & exit points.

The Management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority has been constantly reinforcing its commitment to uphold safety and security to its utmost degree and in full compliance with the Government temporary preventive measures on COVID-19.

Mr. Bio was a focal player in a high powered delegation of a cross section of the Management of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority engagements with Sherbro River mining companies, including the Sierra Leone Mineral Holding Limited 1 (VIMETCO) and Sierra Rutile Limited (Iluka Mining). The engagements among other things were to establish a platform for dialogue with the mining companies, re-establish SLPA presence at Port Niti 1 & 2, assess its landed property, look at the Cargo Tracking Notes payment for the export of Bauxite and Iron Ore, pilotage and stevedore services and visitation to their mining sites.

During the engagement, Mr. Bio dilated on the absence of dialogue between the Authority and the mining companies at the Sherbro River, which resulted in some disagreements, including the issue of Cargo Tracking Note payment on export, the non-utilization of SLPA pilot on outbound service after loading of consignments and the authority’s limitations to only provide inbound services on the arrival of vessels. He therefore called for a platform for dialogue between SLPA and Sherbro River mining companies, as the Authority is ready to encourage investment.

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