“We will not only listen to your complaints, suggestions and comments; we will take actions”, said the Minister for Finance, Trade and Economic Planning.
February 06, 2017
“We will not only listen to your complaints, suggestions and comments; we will take actions”; those are some of the words of encouragement that the Minister of Finance, Trade and Economic Planning said during one of his induction visits.
Dr. Peter Larose was visiting the Sea Port Examination Customs Department as part of a series of induction visits he has been conducting aimed at familiarizing himself with the different departments and agencies under the portfolio of his Ministry.
Current issues such as lack of space, better salary scheme, proper working environment, IT system, staff training and welfare, corruption, delay in operations, proper resources are echoes of the Minister’s previous visits at the different departments of the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC).
According to staff at the Seaport Examination Customs Department, there has been a considerable increase in the importation of goods and this has resulted in continued increase in the number of containers at the Sea Port, albeit, more pressure on Customs officers to handle, inspect and clear them all on time. Speaking on behalf of her colleagues, Ms. Julie said that; “the risk is very high and it is very dangerous for our safety and health as containers are constantly being moved above our heads, while we are busy on the ground carrying out inspections. We are concerned because of our exposure to all sorts of health hazards as we are crammed in a very small office with poor ventilation, where everything is piled and stacked close together,”.
Mrs. Cindy Blakemore, the Acting Assistant Commissioner of Customs, pointed out that there are too many transport accessing the ports area at the same time. The Customs Department has on numerous occasions discussed the issue of space with the Ports Authorities, but the situation has not improved. “Space is very limited, importation is increasing rapidly but the port facilities cannot accommodate and cope with the increase in traffic. It is sad though that Customs is not invited to participate as a stakeholder in meetings to give its inputs in port related administration,”
Cargoes are piling up and staff had to work long hours in the scorching sun, rain without proper protection, as well as transport facilities to conduct inspection on site and elsewhere. Staff recommended an urgent review of the risk allowance as they are working in stressful situations every day.
On his part Minister Larose pointed out that the situation is quite alarming. There is an urgent need to deploy more resources in terms of improving the current IT system with new technologies to improve the conditions.Minister Larose, said that it is time for all stakeholders to synergize our efforts with a view to improve the existing work environment. “It appears that the rate of growth in container traffic has outpaced the rate of sustained capital investments in our port infrastructure. We have no choice but to modernize our logistics and hence, use new technology as a key driver to enable our port to become more competitive. Our staff should be allowed more time to concentrate on assignments, which can minimize our risk exposure to dangerous cargoes. Our country is too small for us to compromise our port security. We must always remain alert to eliminate any potential risk, which can endanger the lives of our people. I, therefore call on all agencies to join forces so that we can turn our weaknesses into strengths for the common good of our country”.
Dr. Larose continued by saying that he and his team will do their utmost best to address the issues raised by staff. He mentioned that these challenges can be tackled in the short, medium and long term. He looks forward with optimism to better improve the situation at the commercial port and working conditions of the employees.
He reiterated the importance of senior managers to meet and interact with staff members on a regular basis so as to create a more consistent, professional approach and better working environment for all.