Transport Minister, Aviation DG Facilitate Second Severance Payment for Former Airport Employees

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The Freetown International Airport through the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA) and the Ministry of Transport and Aviation on the 17th May, 2024 paid the second tranche of end of service benefits to thirty seven former staffs of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority (SLAA) who were working at the Lungi International Airport comprising existing members of junior staff and retirees. It must be noted that forty former employees were paid during the first tranche.

Held at the Old Airport Terminal, the occasion was graced by the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Fanday Turay, the Director General of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA), Musayeroh Barrie, the new Airport Manager of the Freetown International Airport (FIA), Ibrahim Sheriff, the Assistant Director, Labour and Employment in the Ministry of Labour, the General Manager of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority, Jack Massaquoi, the beneficiaries and the Press.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the occasion , Jack Massaquoi, pointed out that all are aware of the recent transition that took place at the Airport informing all that main purpose of the gathering is to pay severance benefits to former employees that were working at the Lungi International Airport.

He commended the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Fanday Turay, for ensuring that a clause enshrined in the contractual agreement between SUMMA Group and the Government of Sierra Leone was implemented to the letter. The Chairman went on to reveal that the second tranche payment will benefit sixty-three former employees of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority (SLAA) highlighting how the payment was processed by the Bank of Sierra Leone and monies have been deposited into the accounts of the beneficiaries also mentioning that for the next tranche, the processing has commenced at the Bank of Sierra Leone.

He informed that as the programme progresses the beneficiaries will be called to collect their payment slips which they should properly peruse in order to verify that the right amount of monies were.

Jack Massaquoi disclosed that along the line they have been encountering certain challenges one of which is that those who were documented next of kins have passed away posing the difficulty as to certainly identify whom payment should be made to.

He said, however, it was agreed in a committee meeting that in such an instance family members should be consulted to appoint among themselves a family representative and that individual must sign a document as the rightful recipient which should be done in the presence of a lawyer to prevent any liability, on the part of the Airport, if a contention is raised.

The General Manager also stated that it was also agreed at the committee meeting that any former member of staff occupying a quarter should be given a grace period of three months after which he or she should quit and hand over the keys.

He concluded by expressing confidence that by the end of November the over 500 former members of staff would have been paid.

The Assistant Director of Labour, Abdulai Conteh, said he is stepping into the shoes of the Minister of Labour, Mohamed Rado Swarray, whom he said was unavoidably not chanced to be present as a result of a tight schedule. He said the long awaited period of when will be pay day finally occurred when payment of severance benefits commenced highlighting that this is the second time that payment will be effected.   Abdulai Conteh expressed appreciation saying as a Ministry they recognize the significant efforts and inputs made by different personalities in ensuring that the payment process becomes a reality.

The Assistant Director praised the beneficiaries for the patience they exercised emphasizing that when once payments would have been completed such will mark the separation between the former employees and the Airport Management further admonishing that if any of them have properties belonging to the Airport they must ensure that those properties are returned.  He assured the beneficiaries that the Ministry will continue to monitor the process to ensure that everybody that is supposed to be paid receives his or her.

In his brief statement, the new Airport Manager, Ibrahim Sherriff, assured that they are committed to make payments until the process is successfully completed. He noted that the total cost for all the payment that would be made stands at $7.5 Million and that every month they are paying $350,000 out of that amount to retirees and the staff that have been transferred to them stressing that by the end of November all payments would be completed.

Minister of Transport and Aviation, Fanday Turay, before commencing to make a statement called upon all the beneficiaries to clap for themselves and thanked them for their understanding as well as patience. He said two years ago a transition occurred when SUMMA Group took over the management of the Airport.

According to him, when he was appointed as Minister he decided to review the contractual agreement between SUMMA Group and the Government adding how he observed that there were certain obligations stated in the previous agreement one of which relates to payment of severance benefits. The Minister commended his Deputy for the efforts made in ensuring that the obligation was adhered to mentioning how his Deputy liaised with Parliament to make sure that the payment process was approved.

Fanday Turay revealed that the payment processes should have embarked upon by the SUMMA Group, according to the contractual agreement, only after approval had been given by the Bank of Sierra Leone but disclosed that, however, through their timely intervention and lobbying SUMMA Group finally decided otherwise by agreeing to pay even before getting the Bank of Sierra Leone approval.

“With $350,000 provided by SUMMA Group it was noticed that the money will not be enough to pay every one that is suppose to benefit and therefore we decided to start the first tranche of payment to retirees, the sick and those that desperately needed money,” the Minister underscored adding that the same criteria was applied in this second payment and they will continue to use it.

He added that as a responsible Government they will ensure the rights of citizens are upheld stressing it was that spirit which made them committed in ensuring that they receive what is rightfully due them. Minister Fanday Turay assured them that if whenever an employee is treated unfairly they are always there to assert and defend the right of that employee as they will step in to ensure that the right things are done.

The Minister admonished them to do the right things and focus on their jobs furthering that anything that goes bad at the Airport will have rippling effects internationally calling on them to be professionals and to work together as a team to make the Airport safe and peaceful.

“You will be given your end of service payment advice slips which you should properly scrutinize and if you note that there are discrepancies then you should bring it to our notice for rectifications to be made,” the Minister advised.

He concluded by commending the SLCAA Director General, Muasyeroh Barrie, the General Manager of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority ,Jack Massaquoi and the New Airport Manager of FIA, Ibrahim Sheriff  for the initiative and flexibility adding that the Minister of Labour, Mohamed Rado Swarray, copiously supported the process.

One of the beneficiaries, Zainab, on behalf of others, expressed profound thanks to all that contributed to make the process become a reality including the Minister of Transport and Aviation. She emphasized the role of women in development and expressed a concern that the list of beneficiaries was not gender balanced as there were only two female names as well as appealing for transparency to be applied in the process.

The highpoint of the occasion was the calling of the names of individual beneficiaries to collect their severance or end of service payment advice slips for verification.


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