The Commander of the Maritime wing of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Capt. Daniel Mansaray has stated that his men successfully repelled an unidentified gang of armed robbers attempting to attack and rob two arrested fishing vessels, Sea God 1 and Sea God 2, located at their Murray Town Military base in Freetown.
Making the disclosure at the usual weekly Joint Maritime Committee Meeting held at the Conference room of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Captain Mansaray said the attackers entered their base at about 2 am that day onboard a motorized dug out canoe with the primary aim of robbing the two vessels but were ‘disabled and driven away’ by his men after an exchange of fire.
He would not ascertain the number of criminals on board the wooden vessels but however confirmed that there were no casualties. He called on the Ministry of Fisheries to impress on the Police to undertake their role of securing the arrested vessels. The Commander further emphasized the need to fully involve the air component of the RSLMF in the monitoring and surveillance of the country’s territorial waters and also urged all stakeholders to be very vigilant in protecting the country’s territorial integrity.
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Joseph Koroma who chaired the meeting, introduced the newly assigned Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, Ahmed Kemokai and stressed the need to strengthen the Joint Maritime Committee, adding that it has tremendous potentials to move the country forward. Hon Koroma informed them about a meeting between the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone and few stakeholders on how Africa’s ability to take the fisheries sector forward could be enhanced and noted World Bank, ADB and NEPAD’S desire to promote that cause. He hoped the communication line between JMC members would remain open.
The Minister called for regional integration to promote surveillance, saying “there is no way we can succeed in maritime surveillance without partnership with neighboring countries”.
A member of the committee, Brig. Gen, K.S.M. Mondeh noted that the committee’s secretariat has not been able to work well because of inadequate funds and called for budgetary support to enable them effectively perform their functions. Col. Ibrahim Koroma also of the RSLMF called for sustained surveillance of the country’s territorial waters and entreated Government to ‘go the extra mile’ and empower the Fisheries and Marine sector. The Director of Fisheries, Dr. Mohamed Sesay said with funds from the UNIDO/ Russian Project, plans are afoot to revitalize the defunct Marine Training School at Kissy Dockyard, enhance fish processing technology in the artisanal fishing sector as well as promoting capacity building. Dr. Sesay also informed the meeting that the forthcoming World Bank West Africa Regional Fisheries Project made provision for a long-range vessel for surveillance among others.
He lamented that Africa has not been able to make inroads in the international markets because it cannot meet international standards while expressing optimism that it stands to benefit a lot more after series of negotiations. Suggestions and comments on issues of air surveillance and the need to beef up border security among others were made at the meeting.