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Cablegate: Sierra Leone: Us Coast Guard Port Security Visit

VZCZCXRO2993
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHFN #0349/01 1521623
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011623Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY FREETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1112
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 FREETOWN 000349

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR EWWT PINS PREL SL
SUBJECT: SIERRA LEONE: US COAST GUARD PORT SECURITY VISIT


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Liaison Officer Doug
Schneider visited Sierra Leone March 26-29 to introduce and
discuss USCG port security programs and implementation of the
International Maritime Organization (IMO) International Ship
and Port Security Program (ISPS) Code with GOSL officials.
Liaison Officer observed port security measures at the main
port and determined that minor modifications, including
improved port perimeter fencing and surveillance and access
control procedures, were needed for Sierra Leone to continue
making progress toward implementing port security measures in
line with ISPS Code. Port officials exhibited a high level of
cooperation and were receptive to recommendations to improve
security measures. Shipping company representatives expressed
dissatisfaction with the level of port security and
complained about ongoing corruption and cargo tampering. Port
bureaucracy and high import tariffs are deterrents to
importing goods through Freetown, and Sierra Leonean traders
often opt to bring goods in through cheaper regional ports.
Although Sierra Leonean security forces continue to be
constrained by limited resources, the port security
infrastructure appears to be in working condition. END
SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- -
USCG LIAISON OFFICER ASSESSES SL PORT SECURITY
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (SBU) USCG Liaison Officer LCDR Doug Schneider visited
Sierra Leone March 26-29 to assess implementation of the IMO
International Ship and Port Security Program (ISPS) Code and
explain USCG maritime security programs to GOSL officials.
Schneider found that most authorities with responsibility for
port security possessed a reasonable knowledge of ISPS but
were working with limited resources to implement measures to
bring Sierra Leone in compliance with international maritime
law. Schneider visited the Queen Elizabeth II Quay and found
security measures to be mostly acceptable. He observed
weaknesses in access control and security perimeter fencing
and surveillance, but felt that those could be corrected with
minor modifications. Schneider also visited the port
authority's state-of-the-art scanning facility. The facility
is privately-operated and scans all incoming and outgoing
containers charging USD 100 per container. Port officials
told Schneider that the port handles a relatively low volume
of approximately 32,000 twenty-foot equivalent container
units (TEU) annually.

--------------------------------------------
JMA SLOWLY BUILDS CAPACITY BUT LACKS FUNDING
--------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Schneider met with officials from the newly-formed
Joint Maritime Authority (JMA), the independent government
authority responsible for implementation and coordination of
maritime security measures. Currently, the JMA is located in
the Office of National Security (ONS), and the ONS
representative is the acting chairperson. The JMA also
includes representatives from the Republic of Sierra Leone
Armed Forces (RSLAF), Sierra Leone Police (SLP), the Sierra
Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA), the Sierra Leone Port
Authority, Ministry of Finance, Immigration and Ministry of
Fisheries and Marine Resources. The JMA does not meet
regularly and is constrained by limited resources. It has
parliamentary authorization to review maritime issues and
draft appropriate legislation.

4. (SBU) JMA members expressed concerns about other West
African ports, and how the disparity in security measures and
customs regimes often gives those ports an unfair advantage
over Sierra Leone and acts as a deterrent to increased cargo
volume. Referring specifically to Guinea, they said that the
port in Conakry attracts Sierra Leonean importers due to lax
security and low import tariffs. Importers transport goods
through Conakry and smuggle them overland into Sierra Leone
at considerable savings. JMA members stressed that a regional
approach should be taken to align port security measures and
promote tariff harmonization at all West African ports to
ensure a level playing field.

--------------------------------------------- ----
COMMERCIAL SHIPPING AGENCIES ASSESS PORT SECURITY
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (SBU) Schneider also met with commercial shipping agency

FREETOWN 00000349 002 OF 002


representatives who expressed concern about port security and
ongoing corruption and cargo tampering. The representatives
clearly recognized that limited resources are an impediment
to improvements in port security. However, they stressed how
important it is to continue to push the GOSL to privatize the
port, as it continues to operate at a loss due to its
inability to generate sufficient revenue, primarily a result
of stiff competition from other West African ports, low
volume of cargo traffic, and corruption. Shipping company
officials also complained the GOSL continued to use the port
as a dumping ground for jobs given as political favors.
However, they commended the job performance of the new Ports
Authority General Manager (GM). Contracted by the World Bank
through 2008, the new GM has implemented numerous reforms
that have improved port operations and increased revenue
slightly. The GM, who is Ghanaian, is the former General
Director for the Port of Ghana.

-------------------------------------------
LIMITED SECURITY ASSETS IMPEDE PORT PATROLS
-------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Port officials told Schneider that the port employs
its own private 160-person security force (Sierra Leone Port
Authority Police or SLPAP), which is solely responsible for
patrolling and port security. The SLPAP does not own any
patrol boats and must call the Sierra Leone Police (SLP)
maritime wing if it needs assistance. The maritime wing of
the SLP owns three small boats but is often slow to respond.
According to the Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO), the
SLPAP uses its one tugboat and pilot boat sporadically to
patrol the port. However, shipping company officials disputed
this assertion saying that they had never seen the SLPAP
patrolling.

----------------------------
USCG INITIAL RECOMMENDATIONS
----------------------------

7. (SBU) Schneider found port officials receptive to his
recommendations. Speaking with the Port Facility Security
Officer (PFSO), Schneider explained how port officials could
improve simple security measures like access control,
tamper-resistant ID badges and monitoring of perimeter
fencing. He also encouraged the PFSO to begin conducting
regular tests and drills to test preparedness. Lastly, he
emphasized the importance of security cooperation between the
various offices and departments and encouraged GoSL officials
to improve interagency communication on port security.

----------------
MILITARY MATTERS
----------------

8. (SBU) During a meeting with Ministry of Defence officials,
Deputy Minister of Defence Joe Blell voiced his displeasure
over a misunderstanding on a boat gifting issue. He said that
his Ministry had been under the impression that there was a
possibility of receiving used U.S. military equipment, but
had not heard anything further on the issue. Schneider
promised Blell that he would research the issue and respond
through the Embassy. Blell did thank Liaison Officer for the
training USCG training teams have provided to the Maritime
Wing of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.

-------
COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) Despite limited resources, Sierra Leone has made
notable progress towards implementing maritime security
measures. Port facility operations have improved over the
last three to four years, and port and security officials
appear to be making good use of their existing assets.
However, insufficient government funding, the port's
inability to generate sufficient revenue, poor interagency
cooperation and ongoing corruption continue to impede
progress. Additionally, Freetown continues to be one of the
most expensive ports in West Africa. Until the GOSL takes
appropriate actions to address the difficult port bureaucracy
and its high tariff regime, it will remain at a competitive
disadvantage. END COMMENT.
HULL

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