The National Port Authority (NPA), in collaboration with APM Terminals and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has auctioned abandoned container units through sealed bids. The containers had overstayed within the premises at the Freeport of Monrovia for over three months or more.
The auction indicates that several 40 feet and 20 feet containers had stayed for 90 days or above while loose cargoes (pallet drinks and Water) have also stayed for more than 90 days. Included among the auctioned items were several abandoned vehicles.
The auction of these items was due to failure on the part of the importers to meet up with their storage payments for these entities.
The exercise, which took place on Saturday, May 9, at the head office of the port, brought together 400 hundred business people and individuals who applied for them through sealed bids advertised in the local dailies.
Sekou Korleh, Executive Director for Government and International Affairs at the Freeport of Monrovia, told the audience that before they came up with these auctions management of these entities granted importers of the cargoes additional ten working days– February 17-27—to have their cargoes cleared with all pertinent shipping documents presented and storage bills paid.
Based on that, he said, nobody turned up to show ownership of them and, as a result, management decided to auction them to the public through sealed bids.
“Further delays in clearance will lead to accumulation of customs duties, storage and warehouse rent charges,” said Mr. Korleh. “Prolonged stay may lead to the goods being deemed abandoned to be disposed of through auction to create space for incoming cargo.”
He said the entire process was followed in sequence where bidders bought the auction booklet and marked the items they were interested in.
Commenting further on the abandoned items at the port, Mr. Korleh added that, “If you went to America and received 20 mattresses in a container free of charge and the port there (in America) asked you to pay US$1,500 for shipment to Liberia, when the goods arrive here (Liberia) then we ask you to pay another US$1,500 and you have not paid for freight, just calculate all the expenses; maybe it would amount to US$5,000 to US$6,000. The owner will definitely abandon them and leave.”
For his part, Wounpay Doe, Acting Manager for Trade Facilitation at LRA, said the entity is there to collect the lawful taxes that belong to government.
Mr. Doe noted that when it comes to auctions the LRA believes in the laws, because the entity wants to ensure that government receives its lawful revenues.