For the first time in five years, the management of the National Port Authority (NPA) has completed dredging the Freeport of Monrovia to a depth of 13.5 meters and in some places, 14.5 meters, in order to accommodate larger and wider vessels and to provide for safe navigation and facilitate trade and commerce.
The dredging, which was completed last week Friday, was executed by the Norwegian company, Nordsee, a subsidiary of Dredging Environment Marine International (DEME Group) who was the most responsive bidder selected from among the six companies that submitted bids in an International Competitive Bidding (ICB) process executed by the National Port Authority. The outcome was approved by the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC).
In 2012, the Freeport of Monrovia was dredged to a depth of 12.5 meters. This depth reduced to 11.5 meters as a result of siltation buildup over the last five years. A safe memo reducing draft requirement soon followed, limiting the size of vessels that could come in because the entrance channel had narrowed and the depth reduced.
As a result of the just completed dredging, the depth has increased to 13.5 meters in most places and 14.5 in other areas, eliminating the need for draft restriction, which was immediately lifted. The areas around the new Fuel Unloading Facility (FUF) which is to be completed and commissioned shortly, was also dredged to a similar depth. The safe navigational buoy that was sitting ashore as a result of siltation build-up was recovered and repositioned in order to continue facilitating 24-hour safe vessel movements.
The NPA managing director expressed delight in the completion of the dredging because it accommodates the global trend where vessels are becoming bigger in order to accomplish economy of scale – discharging more cargoes for multiple consignees on a single trip.
Mr. David Williams said as a consequence of this dredging, it is expected that cargo throughout the Freeport of Monrovia will increase since the port can now attract and accommodate bigger and wilder vessels safely and reliably. The NPA managing director said going forward, it is his hoped that it will no longer take five years before dredging is done; but that the required two-year maintenance dredging will be carried out accordingly in order to keep attracting bigger and larger vessels to a safer and reliable port to spur trade and commerce.
The NPA managing director thanked all partners, including the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Public Procurement and Concession Commission, APM Terminals and the staff of the NPA, especially the marine personnel, for the cooperation and assistance throughout the exercise.
Mr. Williams also thanked the shipping community for keeping faith with Liberia’s port system and assured the community of a continued safe and reliable port environment to call at all times.