The decision by the management of Bollore to keep its commitment in providing its mandated services by staying on and operating throughout the period of the Ebola outbreak was a great service to the people of Sierra Leone. The gateway to the country, the Port, was kept open and fully operational throughout the dreaded 18 months of the EVD outbreak, thus giving confidence to ship owners to continue to call at the Port. Also worthy of note is the fact that the company facilitated the import of badly needed emergency medical supplies required to aid the national response. It also kept open the channel of trade necessary for the sustenance of the economy and the nation. Additionally, the professional management of the Port enhanced a well-organized and accountable system for the receipt and delivery of emergency supplies.
On the logistical front, Bollore’s subsidiary, Sea and Land Services Ltd, was also deeply involved in the clearing of emergency supplies at both the seaport and airport, providing specialist services to international and local NGOs. Tons of materials and equipment were cleared and safely moved to locations all over the country for the erection and equipping of treatment centres with a very tight time schedule.
As a more direct intervention in the fight, the Bollore Group contributed Le50 million to the Ministry of Health. It as well donated clinical materials to the Marampa community in the Port Loko District, Northern Sierra Leone, and sponsored contact tracing exercises in Constituency 103 by committing the necessary resources and providing the needed materials to aid the process, especially at a time when the virus appeared to be devastating some communities within the constituency. What apparently was considered the most significant contribution made by the company to the Government was the waiving-off of terminal fees on all Ebola cargoes, which amounted to about a billion Leones. Furthermore, keeping the Group operating in such trying times helped to marshal the requisite resources to carry out the national response as Government was short-changed by the already dwindling business activities in the country; the impact of businesses closing down with its attendant ripple effect on employment.
Even before the Ebola invasion in the country, Bollore– as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments – had been fully engaged in providing support to communities in its operational areas in times of need and crisis. The company rendered unrivalled assistance, on two occasions, to victims of the fire incidents at Taylor Street, off Fourah Bay Road and Coconut Farm, off Blackhall Road at Kissy. Bollore has also supported educational ventures by contributing to the construction of schools and providing scholarships to underprivileged children. The company’s equipment, such as fire fighters and container lifters, has been used for the prevention of disasters in communities.
It is indeed laudable that an investor, given the task to finance the restructuring and equipping of the national Port from ground zero with no equipment and low professionalism and esteem, had ploughed in over US$37 million thereby turning around and lifting the standard of the Port to commendable international status.
Bollore has proved to be a true friend of Sierra Leone by demonstrating great faith in the country, contributing to its rebuilding and development as a worthy and dependable corporate citizen.