Twelve years ago in 2004, the Seychelles Government identified the need to restructure and systematically improve the Ports and Marine Services Division. This resulted in the creation of two separate bodies; one focused on the administration of the maritime safety and the other, the Seychelles Ports Authority.
Since then, this has proven to be a fruitful decision and has served to give fresh momentum to activities at the port, something that has been very well received not only by the customers but also by the organisations involved with Seychelles.
“In 1978 Seychelles became a member of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation,” says Lt Col. Andre Ciseau, CEO of Seychelles Port Authority, “This is an international organisation that is responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.”
Having a company directly focussed on the management of the ports is advantageous, especially considering that due to its tranquil nature and remote location, the Port is a safe haven for ships and is continuing to thrive as a stopover for large vessels.
SPA is headed up by Col. Andre Ciseau, who sits at the head of a board of directors appointed by the minister and as a group they are responsible for providing efficient port services, safety and security as well as planning, development and leasing of properties within the Port boundaries.
Located in Victoria, the Port Victoria saw the opening of its industrial port in 1975 with the aim to construct a new port facility to increase ship turnaround times and allow larger ships to berth. The port opened in stages between September 1974 and May 1975.
The Port and Marine Division ensure a smooth and safe flow of traffic using the Port as well as ensuring the best conditions for vessels to enter port, work their cargo and leave with minimum delays.
“The mission of the SPA is to drive the economic growth of the Republic by providing efficient services and facilities at competitive rates,” Col. Andre Ciseau says, “To do this however, our primary focus is not the port itself, but our manpower.”
He explains that the Corporate Services and Human Resources Department is the sector responsible for the company’s most valuable asset and that this department’s main objective is establishing equitable policies in order to ensure effective Human Resources management. It also aims to support their mission and objectives through a set of key strategies. These strategies highlight the importance placed on teamwork and include such things as working effectively with all divisions by identifying and responding to their changing needs and providing leadership and guidance in the development and implementation of equitable administration policies and procedures.
“For all employees,” he says, “We encourage growth and opportunity and aim to foster fair and open communications.”
Recruitment and retention strategies are in place and focus on flexible remuneration packages in accordance with PSO and proper schemes of service, to offer an attractive career structure, a healthy and safe work location and the chance to foster a positive work environment that encourages staff excellence through appropriate training and development.
Supporting each other, the accruement of talented and dedicated staff fits well with the Business Development Division, who’s primary function is to ensure that all assets of SPA work to the optimum and contribute their fair share to the total revenue of the Authority. Coinciding with this, they ensure that all tenants are managed efficiently and contribute rental revenue to the full extent.
“Another function of Business Development Department,” Andre tells us, “Is to ensure that new business and commercial opportunities are constantly identified and developed in order to ensure a sustainable stream of inflows into the Authority.”
A diverse segment of the company, this department has a number of different areas to focus on. They work in close partnership with the Finance Department to ensure that costs and expenses are contained in order that together with an increased revenue base, the net revenue of the Authority are kept to its maximum potential. They are also responsible for the analysis and review of all legal documents linked to SPA such as the lease agreements issued to tenants, harbour dues regulations, and the Seychelles Ports Authority Act. According to Andre, this responsibility requires a high level of diligence and collaboration with legal experts, which are currently being outsourced.
Another dimension of the business development department is its responsibility for the collection, analysis and interpretation of the statistical report on the entire spectrum of activities undertaken by the Seychelles Ports Authority. “This statistical information is presented in the form of an Annual Bulletin and forms the basis of most decision-making in Port related investment decisions,” Andre says. Many institutions, both local and international rely on the SPA statistical bulletin to make their decisions and gain an overview of the performance of the Seychelles Ports Authority.
Projects and Infrastructure
Keeping the Port at a high-functioning level where SPA is able to offer the services that they do is an ongoing necessity that includes maintaining all of the port premises and infrastructures (Mahe , Praslin & La Digue). This envelops the managing, coordinating and facilitating of multiple reengineering and process improvement initiatives related to the development and enhancement of the Port Victoria and the inter-island jetties- this also forms part of the master development plan.
They provide strategic, expert advice and consultation on the design and implementation of new Port or Jetty infrastructure development and directly develop integrated projects plans, implementation schedules and cost estimates for major long-term projects. All of this is then communicated through the executive management and administration teams so that Andre and his crew are always abreast of the status of current project initiatives.
One of the newest developments at SPA is the establishment of a protocol that enables vessels to pay harbour dues. Together with the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (their sister company), SPA will now have a smoother way of dealing with respective vessels paying for their harbour dues, now that the two parties have signed an agreement clearly stating their specific roles in the process.
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, aimed at simplifying the work carried out by both parties, was signed at the Seychelles Ports Authority, offices on Friday 22 January 2016, in the presence of several representatives from both organisations. The chief executive of the SPA, Lt Col. Andre Ciseau and Captain Percy Laporte signed the agreement on behalf of the SPA, Whereas Cpt. Joachim Valmont did the honours for the SMSA.
This new document states that among other specific duties the SMSA has to carry out, the administration has to make it clear to vessels that they must pay their harbour dues to the SPA in order to have their certificate of registration/ survey issued. As a result of the new agreement, SMSA has also agreed to assist SPA with any relevant information it may have about vessels it registered and those berthed in Seychelles waters as and when necessary. Subsequently, SPA now has the responsibility of working very closely with SMSA to ensure that the correct protocols needed to ensure vessels pay their required harbour dues, are followed. It is also up to SPA to provide proof that the dues have indeed been paid.
The signing of the agreement gives SPA the responsibility of ensuring that all visiting yachts entering the country produce their original Certificate of Registry – that will only be returned to them once they settle their Port dues upon their departure.
“This partnership will allow us to capitalise on the resultant better overall service,” he says.