In line with His Excellency, President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s vision to transform the face of the country, the Sierra Leone Chief Immigration Officer (CIO), Hon. Alusine Kanneh made his first familiarization tour at the Freetown International Airport since his appointment in August 2023, admonishing staff to be professional in performing their responsibilities to travelers in administering their day to day activities at the airport.
Addressing a cross section of both permanent staff and volunteers, CIO said his visit was to seek first-hand-information
about the numerous challenges faced by the staff and also reminded them about the complaints received from travelers who go through the screening process from immigration staff and thereby putting unprofessional conduct whilst performing their duties.
The Chief Immigration Officer stressed that his visit was the first official visit to Lungi since he took over office in September last year and he was there to know the challenges faced by staff as far as border entry is concerned. He intimated that Lungi is a serious entry point to Sierra Leone.
The CIO emphasized that his visit was also to encourage staff to change the narrative and not to continue with business as usual. He expressed that his focus is to make Immigration Department very attractive and he wants to change the old narrative of the institution.”I want to be remembered for doing the right thing when I leave this institution one day”
The former law maker further opined that he was there to also caution them on the in-depth activities towards travelers. He emphatically called on them to work in the interest of the country and put the nation’s interest above all else.
He expressed dissatisfaction over volunteers that have long served the institution for over four, five and more years without being absorbed into the system. But he called on them to put up their best performance at the airport, noting that he is working very hard to bring more employment into the Immigration Department.
The CIO ended up assuring them that he will give his support to them to have a better working environment and also warned them to stop taking tokens from travelers. “There are a lot of complaints out there asking travelers to give money. It has to stop from this moment, henceforth anyone here reported of asking travelers for money will be dealt with accordingly”
Head of Immigration, Freetown International Airport, Henry Cowan thanked and appreciated the CIO for visiting them. He said the strength of the permanent immigration staff at the airport is not encouraging, disclosing that the airport only has 26 permanent immigration staff of which 4 are seriously ill and no assurance of them reporting back to work.
“I have 37 volunteers that have been working at the airport and I am pleading to you sir to see how you can be able to absorb them into the institution” he pleaded.
Director of Administration and Finance, Immigration Department, Alie Bakar Conteh outlined successes achieved by the current CIO in less than five months in office. He revealed that since the Chief Immigration Officer took over office, the Immigration Department has achieved a lot of positive things and some of the positive reports are out there.
He said since the CIO took over, he realized that the institution has less than three 300 staff nationwide to address immigration issues across the country.
He further said that with the sincere and visionary leadership from the CIO, they are working with the Human Resource Office to see how they can recruit more staff to be part of the transformative drives of Hon. Alusine Kanneh.
He however reminded all of them that they would not be able to employ everyone at the same time, but also called on them to be professional and stop embarrassing themselves to travelers.