Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Chairman of SLMA, Captain Freddy Bob-Jones said the ISPS code is one of the main legal instruments developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ensure that Ports Facilities and Ships of Member States otherwise known as Contracting Governments are safe and secure.
He said over the years challenges relating to maritime security have been evolving; with criminals choosing states deemed to be soft targets to wreak havoc for private gains. Such a development the chairman went on is worrisome for Sierra Leone and in a bid to immunize against maritime insecurity, and fulfill the country’s international obligations as a country, the SLMA being the designated authority, acting for and on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, is taking proactive measures to ensure maritime security.
Welcoming participants to the event earlier, Executive Director for SLMA, Alhaji Wurroh Jalloh said it was an honor and privilege for SLMA to host the regional training which he expressed hope that will enrich participants with better understanding of contemporarily issues in maritime security and especially so when it comes to matters dealing with Ports Authorities.
He said the 9/11 attack in the United States of America prompted the IMO to be proactive and which resulted to the development and adoption of the ISPS code under SOLAS which came into force in 2014, adding that governments worldwide are now party to it and so is Sierra Leone. This he said is obligatory that Sierra Leone must be in compliance with ISPS code in all the required Ports.
In conclusion, Director Wurroh Jalloh revealed that 90% by volume of trade worldwide is done using Maritime transportation for which Sierra Leone is no exception. “Our economy largely depends on its ports as an interface for the exports of mainly raw materials like Rutile, Bauxite, Timber, Cacao and the import of almost all finished products which have an impact on the livelihood of every Sierra Leonean. It is for this reason that the Government of Sierra Leone takes the security of its ports facilities seriously.
Officially launching the training workshop, Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Logus Koroma advised participants to take the session serious and ensure they benefit from the training.
He said it is estimated that over 80% of Sierra Leone’s economic interest are in one way or the other related to Maritime Affairs of which 75% has to do with imports and exports. He assured that his ministry has directly taken the lead on several initiatives to promote ports and maritime security, thereby ensuring adequate presence and requisite deployment of marine regulatory and law enforcement bodies that fall under the merit of the ministry.
The minister encouraged participants to make us of the session.