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Unlawful suspension at Maritime Administration …Minister and Board in fierce battle

By Abu Bakarr Kargbo 

 

Bad blood is currently flowing at the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, where Members of the Board f Directors led by Alhaji Umaru Dumbuya are not happy with the decision of the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon, who they accused of contravening the Maritime Act of 2000 and as amended in 2007. “The Sierra Leone Maritime Acts clearly gives the Board exclusive powers to serve as governing body of the Administration. The Minister reserves no such rights to hire and fire staff, especially an Executive Director that was appointed by His Excellency the President and approved by Parliament,” sources says and added that whatever issues the Minister have with any personnel in the administration he should forward it either to the board, State House or Parliament, rather than taking a unilateral decision to act beyond his limits.

Extracts of Part II Section 4 of the SLMA ACTS OF 2000 stated thus: “(4.1) – The governing body of the Administration shall be a Board which shall, subject to this Act, have the control and supervision of the Administration. (2) Without prejudice to subsection (1), the Board shall be responsible for:- (a) securing the implementation of the functions of the Administration; (b) the approval of policies for the proper management of the Administration; and (c) the sound and; proper financial management of the Administration.”

According to the letter of suspension dated 8th May 2020, The Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA), Ken Philip Sondai will not be entitled to the payment of his salary until the suspension is lifted. The said decision was taken by the Transport Minister Kabineh Kallon for what he referred to as ‘insubordination and poor management style’, for which no tangible evidence has been forwarded by the Minister.

This decision did not go down well with the Board of Directors, whose Chairman, Alhaji Umaru Dumbuya wrote a letter, countering the decision of the Minister, noting that “He does not have the authority to suspend the Executive Director of SLMA”. His letter dated 8th May 2020 stated that “I write to inform all Directors and staff of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration that with the power vested in me as the Board Chairman, I hereby inform you all that Mr. Ken Philip Sondai is still the Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration. If there are any changes you will be duly informed by the Board”.

Mr. Sondai has dismissed allegations made by the Minister that he refused to submit to him several documents that are of administrative relevance, travelling without authorization and failing to submit to the Minister the list of registered ships that are flying the Sierra Leone flag in international waters. “The Board, which I directly report to are well aware of my leadership and activities at the SLMA,” he remarked and furthered that he has been working in line with the President’s New Direction Agenda to transform the SLMA so that it serves as a standard entity and work in line with its primary objectives.

The Maritime Administration is an autonomous body established by an Act of Parliament to register ship and other vessels, the licensing and safety of maritime personnel and for the regulation and development generally of maritime, coastal and inland water transport and for other matters connected therewith. Investigations continue. See more next edition.

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