The maritime industry remains at the cusp of technology and one with a huge responsibility to maintain safety and efficiency for the world’s logistics business. Within the Seychelles, that remit falls within the compass of the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA), an organisation with over a decade of experience behind it and one whose aim is to transform and sustain Port Victoria as a viable maritime hub.
The Seychelles Ports Authority was created in October 2004 under the Seychelles Ports Authority Act (2004). A public commercial Authority, the SPA emerged from the Port and Marine Services Division (PMSD) under the portfolio responsibility of the then Ministry of Tourism and Transport.
Since its inception in 2004, SPA has been overseen by Lieutenant Colonel Andre Ciseau, Chief Executive Officer:
“SPA manages all national and international terminals. SPA’s principal activities also include the management of mooring and movement of vessels in and out of Port Victoria Harbour, the management of the main International Commercial Port, the Industrial Fishing Port and a network of domestic, inter- island jetties and terminals.
“SPA provides an array of port- related services on a 24 hours a day and 365 days a year basis. SPA is also involved in leasing facilities (land and warehouses) in the vicinity of the port area which are used in port- related activities,” he describes.
The role of SPA continues to broaden as business expands in the Seychelles but in principle and in line with the SPA Act of 2004, the authority is responsible for regulating, controlling and administering all matters relating to the safety and security of the Port and its facilities.
Additionally, SPA promotes the development of the infrastructure relating to the Port; maintains Port installations and promotes the use, improvement and development of the Port; encourages the use of reliable and sufficient equipment in the provision of Port services; participates in matters pertaining to search and rescue; collects all harbour dues, rental fees and other moneys payable to the Authority under this Act or any other law; plans, executes and evaluates evaluate training programs for employees, which are designed to ensure conformity with the standards of the services provided by them; acts in collaboration with other public authorities and entities for the prevention of marine source pollution, protection of marine environment and to respond to marine environment incidents; advises the government or any public authority on any matter relating to merchant shipping and prevention and control of marine pollution; represents the Seychelles on maritime matters at both national and international levels and takes on other responsibilities that help to contribute to the attainment of the objectives of the Authority.
“The SPA’s headquarter is based in Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles and we have more than 200 staff working for the Authority. The SPA occupies different areas on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue Island; an industrial fishing port, Inter Island Quay, Ile du Port (Zone14) and Inter Island Cargo Terminal (Zone 6),” states Lieutenant Colonel Ciseau.
In total, SPA manages over 1663 nautical square miles of the Victoria Port Limit. SPA’s principal activities also include the management of mooring and movement of vessels in and out of Port Victoria Harbour, the management of the main International Commercial Port (Mahe Quay), the Industrial Fishing Port and a network of domestic, inter- island jetties and terminals.
Ciseau says that a seminal commercial moment came when IOT (Indian Ocean Tuna Ltd), one of the largest tuna canning factories in the world arrived on the Seychelles: “This has positioned the Seychelles as a hub for major transhipment for tuna fishing which has translated into multiple spill-overs in terms of businesses associated with the tuna industry in the Seychelles economy,” he affirms.
There are over 1,500 port calls annually which involve international, domestic and passenger movements. Consequently, SPA has a variety of customers which include: the National Drugs Enforcement Agency (NDEA), Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC), Department of Environment, Local importers and Exporters, IOT Canning factory, inter island ferries, naval/cruise ships, Cement/Petroleum/ Cargo companies, shipping agents, ship chandlers, immigration, shipping lines and individual yachts.
In such a competitive environment, the growth of commerce is very much dependent on ongoing development of the ports and this is something that Lieutenant Colonel Ciseau says has been recognised by the SPA: “As part of its Development Master Plan and in tandem with its Five Year Strategic Plan, the Seychelles Ports Authority is undertaking the redevelopment of inter islands port areas in order to enhance economic activities. Given the rapid pace of development on the Inter Islands, the Seychelles Ports Authority is gearing up to face the challenges and align its infrastructure development with the expectation of the social and economic development of the country,” he comments.
“There is always pressure to create other facilities at the different ports as well as berthing space (there is an evolution in the types of vessels in terms of size and make). Also, securing financing to extend the port facilities poses a major challenge,” he continues.
“Budget limitation is one of the challenges as well as the regional maritime insecurities which reduce the number of port calls and the businesses associated with these port calls,” he adds.
Despite these concerns, he cites efficiency in operations and an open door policy, combined with good customer relationships as the areas that make SPA truly stand out.
Another area under consideration is the environmental aspects of running the ports and Lieutenant Colonel Ciseau says that this is an area of growing importance:
“The SPA ensures that in all its operations, it takes into account all the national environmental laws/framework of the Seychelles. Also, the long term vision of SPA is that of adopting a Green Port Strategy. The aspect of Environment considerations is enshrined in the SPA Act as part of the mandate of SPA.”
Some 11 years after taking the helm, there is much achieved at the Seychelles Port Authority, but Lieutenant Colonel Ciseau remains excited, with a number of projects still to accomplish:
“There are a number of important developments to come in the future, including the Port extension, which will involved creating additional berthing space to cater for more and larger, modern vessels to come alongside the Quay.
“We also need to reinforce our cruise ship strategy and promote Port Victoria as the port of refuge.
“Port Victoria plays a prominent role in our plans and we are looking to position it as a major Transhipment Hub for Cargo/Maritime Trade Flows between Africa and Asia, given the strategic location of the Seychelles Islands.
“We also want to support the Blue Economy Concept of the Seychelles Government by providing dedicated berthing areas for Tuna Fishing Vessels and facilitating other quay side activities related to the Tuna Industry,” he concludes.