Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ships Contribute $380 Billion in Freight Rates

Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, Philip Lukuley Monday disclosed that the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates showed that the operations of merchant ships contributed USD 380 billion in freight rates within the global economy in 2003 alone.

He made this disclosure during a workshop on the Amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act 2003 and the Licensing and Regulation of Shipping Agents at the Santano House in Freetown. The eternal triangle of producers, manufacturers and markets are brought together through shipping. This has always been the case and will remain so for the foreseeable future. More than 90% of global trade is carried in ships," Lukuley stated, adding that throughout the last century the shipping industry had seen a general upward trend.

"The ship owners and ship operators are represented in different countries by ship agents in carrying out the responsibilities of ship owners and ship operators. In Sierra Leone, there are three major ship agents representing three and more shipping lines calling at the Ports in Freetown," he noted, adding that the agents are Maersk Line, Sierra Leone National Shipping Agencies and OBT Shipping Line.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications, he said, deemed it necessary to amend the Merchant Shipping Act under "The Merchant Shipping Act 2006" which would provide for the licensing of ship agents and regulate their activities.

Dr. Prince Alex Harding, Transport and Communications Minister said that after the war in 2001 government introduced a series of economic reforms within the macroeconomic framework aimed at stabilizing the economy.

"Against this background, government adopted a new policy initiative to liberalize certain key industries in the services sector (telecommunication, public transportation, the Port, Maritime industry ect) and open them to competition, within the sprit of fair play, transparency and accountability," he said, adding that the government has embarked on the process of making fundamental changes within the management of Sierra Leone Port Authority (SLPA) with the aim of transforming the Queen Elizabeth II Quay into a landlord port status.

Belinda Davies of the Law Offers Department maintained that the seminar sought to develop the county's shipping industry, as the amendment was pivotal. In the past, she went on, there was no legislation in the shipping industry. She assured that the new framework would enable shipping agents to carry out their work effectively.