The Airport Transfer Unit (ATU) on Thursday ended a day’s validation workshop on the safety and comfort of international passenger traffic between Freetown and Lungi and its environs, held at the Mamba Point Restaurant in Freetown. ATU is a proposed establishment under the Airport Transfer Project (ATP) of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation.
The workshop hosted by the Public Policy Research Institute, Consultant to the ATP, attracted stakeholders from the Sierra Leone Airports Authority (SLAA), Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA), Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA), the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority, operators in sea transport, the Sierra Leone Police and the Navy.
Speaking at the workshop, ATP Project Director, Hindolo Siaka, said the project came into being in 2009 when a contract was signed between government and the Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa.
He added that the objectives of the project are to establish a regulatory framework, building of two helipads at Aberdeen and Lungi, and building of jetties at Kissy and Government Wharf.
The Project Director further noted that the validation workshop was very important taking into consideration comments, suggestions and advices that were made by the participants.
Lead Consultant for the Project, Claudius J Thomas, said that a previous workshop was held on the 10th June 2010, at which suggestions and comments were made.
He added that the reason to establish the ATU is to ascertain maximum satisfaction of international passengers.
Mr Thomas averred that the Unit would also make international passengers feel comfortable when they use the Freetown / Lungi route and its environs.
He reiterated that setting up this unit will monitor and regulate the water transport sector, ensure operators are diligent and efficient, durable and comfort for international passengers.
The Consultant maintained that an arrangement may be made among these statutory bodies: SLAA, SLMA and the Sierra Leone Aviation Authority guaranteeing their cooperation in the achievement of the objectives of a one-stop shop regulatory body for the Lungi to Freetown transfer and the Freetown Peninsular.
This arrangement, he said, may be evidenced by a ministerial directive, a Memorandum of Understanding or a formal agreement.
Legal Consultant for the project, Dandyson Durosime Thompson, said that the focus of ATP is to do some of the things these regulatory bodies :SLAA, SLMA and the Sierra Leone Aviation Authority have legal powers to do.
Mr Thompson stated that to avoid the process of going to Parliament for an ATU Act, which will take up to 12 months, the Ministry of Transport which has the mandate to regulate all sea and air traffic in the country and the Consultant- Public Policy Research Institute should develop a Policy Paper to be presented to Cabinet, adding that once it has been approved by Cabinet, then it will become a government policy.
Participants also discussed the proposed organogram, funding mechanism for the sustainability and other measures relevant to the ATU.
By Abibatu Kamara