The United Kingdom is helping to promote Sierra Leone’s development as a maritime hub in West Africa with the handing over of a newly constructed jetty.
The proper management and preservation of maritime resources is central to Sierra Leone’s long-term future. The coastline is important for a number of reasons: it offers a source of employment and skills development; its fish stocks are key to food security; and its marine environment has the potential to attract greater numbers of tourists and generate more revenue.
At an opening ceremony in Murray Town, the British High Commissioner, Mr Guy Warrington, was pleased to handover the new purpose-built Murray Town Jetty to the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces Maritime Wing.
Speaking at the event, he said: “Murray Town Jetty will provide a safe and secure berth for the nation’s maritime capacity, and is vital to a coordinated response to the proper regulation of waterborne industry to combating a variety of maritime threats from illegal, unlicensed & unregulated fishing to smuggling & illegal migration”.
Receiving the jetty on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone was the Deputy Minister of Defence, Captain (retired) Abdul Kamara, and the Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General John Milton. They were joined by representatives from the security sector and the international community.
Murray Town has been at the centre of the country’s maritime development and is the home of both the Maritime Wing and the Police Marine Division. Murray Town has quickly built up its reputation as a centre of maritime excellence and is home to the Joint Maritime Committee Headquarters – the first maritime coordination centre in West Africa, which brings together national maritime agencies to help combat illegal activity off Sierra Leone’s coastline. This diverse family of agencies also includes the Maritime Administration, and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
The handing over of the jetty is the most recent example of the UK’s ongoing maritime partnership. In 2010, a UK-funded infrastructure programme, delivered in partnership with the RSLAF Engineers, built the new Maritime Wing Headquarters and rehabilitated the Joint Maritime Committee Headquarters. This investment into Sierra Leone’s maritime security sits alongside the technical assistance from the United States and the financial support from the Isle of Man Government.