Workers call for privatization of marine slipway
Workers of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA) Marine Slipway and Repair Facility have called for its privatization due to its deplorable state in terms of equipment, personnel and infrastructure. Manager of the Marine Slipway, Malcolm Walta Green
The slipway was constructed in 1952.
The Manager of the Marine Slipway, Malcolm Walta Green disclosed that the institution was rehabilitated in 2001 but with no modern equipment provided and disclosed that when rehabilitated and provided with modern equipment, the facility would create employment, generate income by repairing and maintaining sea vessels and in the process contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.
He informed that vessels are presently taken to Ghana and other countries for repairs revealing that the various departments at the slipway include ship writhers, carpentry, labor, painting and winch house.
According to the Manager, the existing winch, which was repaired by the Chinese in 2001, is 60 meters in length and handles a 500 ton vessel.
Some of the key challenges, he said are lack of standard equipment, working tools, dilapidated buildings and protective gears underscoring that depositing of waste into the sea is also a major concern adding that inspite of the regular cleaning of the area by the SLPA Environment Officer, the debris keeps reappearing.
Other workers interviewed reiterated the need to privatize the establishment to enhance efficiency and revenue generation.
One of the biggest shipyards in the world, Holland Shipyards, has already shown interest in investing millions of dollars to transform the facility to international standard.
The Marine Slipway is a none-core asset of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority.
It was established by the British Colony in 1951 for the repair and maintenance of sea vessels.
Over the years, the facility has become more of a liability to Government than an asset, hence warranting the need for privatization.
The National Commission for Privatization (NCP) has therefore thought it wise to handover the facility to the private company to make it more economically viable to the state.
Reports further state that the concession was done by public tender that eventually led to the Netherlands based company, Holland Shipyards, being selected as the most responsive bidder.
The company has a very long and credible history in the maintenance and repair of sea vessels with its main facilities based in the Netherlands.
The current condition at the Marine Slipway is nothing good to write home about.
The Sierra Leone Government’s overall privatization of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority is to reform and restructure the entire port system and that concessioning the Marine Slipway is part of this objective.
The Marine Slipway agreement, according to Holland Shipyards Company, is to transform the facility into a modern one that will be capable of providing services to both local and international vessels; service vessels like ferries, tug boats and other marine vessels in Freetown, thereby easing the cost and risk of taking them to other countries like Senegal; provide much needed revenue to Government and construct a floating duck.
Other plans are to upgrade the existing cradle to ensure that two vessels can be serviced at the same time; build tug boats in Freetown for export to other countries; reclaim the land to increase the size of the existing facility; employ all existing staff and bring onboard more Sierra Leoneans.
By Abdul R. Bedor Kamara
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