Many importers have been complaining about the activities of Bollore/Freetown Terminal at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Quay (Water Quay).
That Bollore/Freetown Terminal, a concession holder at the quay is making things very difficult for them when they want to remove their goods from the quay.
As such, the government of Sierra Leone in a letter from the Financial Secretary Sahr L Jusu, dated 19 September to Bollore/Freetown Terminal states that the company is using the parallel exchange rate (Black Market) in valuing payment of charges levied on business people who ‘’clearing and forwarding consignment of items at the port.’’
“For instance on 1 September 2018, Bollore published on their notice board, stating that effective 1st of September 2018, the exchange rate was 8,700=$1.0. However on the 1st of September 2018, the prevailing official exchange rate to one (1) US Dollar was Le8,254.17 for buying and 8,420.92 for selling,” the letter explains.
That they observed that even unofficial rate at the black market was lesser than the one Bollore is extorting from people.
“You may wish to know that while applying exchange rates on transaction of government interest violates the Bank of Sierra Leone Laws, it also increases the cost of clearing and forwarding in Sierra Leone” the letter maintains.
That according to the World Bank Doing Business Reports, Sierra Leone is listed as one of the most expensive countries in clearing a 20ft container at its ports.
“We must reduce the costs to facilitate trade aimed at minimizing final prices to consumers,” the letter continues.
The Government warned Bollore and other people operating at the port to be using the actual Central Bank exchange rate which is published weekly.
Business people have also been bemoaning about the cost of clearing and forwarding goods at the quay which has increased the cost of goods and the standard of living in the country.