Her appointment as the East London port manager was announced by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) chief executive Shulami Qalinge at the weekend.
Sijako, 45, has been the acting port manager since April, when TNPA last made leadership appointments.
Prior to being appointed to act as the port manager, she was the port’s senior operations manager for three-and-a-half years.
Sijako said: “I am extremely honoured by this vote of confidence, and hugely excited about the chance to lead a strong, dynamic port team in solidifying and building on the tremendous progress we have made to date.
“The next few years will undoubtedly be challenging, as we continue to navigate ongoing global economic pressures, but I have no doubt East London is entering an exciting new phase of growth.
“I look forward to working closely with our existing strategic partners, and growing a whole new crop of partnerships in the entire value chain that will help usher our port, and our city, into a new era of global competitiveness.”
Qalinge said: “We are delighted to have finalised the recruitment and selection processes leading up to these appointments, as this will better enable us to deliver on our strategic objectives and continue to pursue improvements in safety and operational efficiencies at these ports.”
Sijako, a proud East Londoner who matriculated from Mzomhle Senior Secondary School in Mdantsane, is the second woman port manager in East London after Jacqueline Brown, who had a nine-year tenure at the helm of South Africa’s only river port.
“Sijako’s career with Transnet began 21 years ago with short tenures at the ports of Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth. In 1998, she joined the Port of East London, where she has developed a deep understanding of the port system through operations roles at both TNPA and sister division Transnet Port Terminals,” said Qalinge.
“She has more than a decade of senior operations experience spanning the port’s automotive, container and grain terminals. A dynamic manager, Sijako counts team leadership and people management among her strengths.
“Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts degree and an honours degree in administration from the University of the Western Cape, and she has completed a number of training courses to improve her knowledge and skills,” she said.
Qalinge thanked Alvin Singama who shared the acting port manager responsibilities with Sijako and said the decision had been tough “due to the high calibre of these and other applicants”.