The Liberian government in partnership with the World Bank recently broke ground for the rehabilitation of the Mesurado Industrial Fishery Terminal at the Freeport of Monrovia at a cost of US$7million.
Vice President Joseph Boakai said during the ceremony that the terminal when completed would advance agriculture and commerce and be an effective revenue generating enterprise.
VP Boakai said Liberia can no longer complain about the decline in iron ore and rubber prices because the country is endowed with numerous resources, among which agriculture ranks prominent.
“Our fishes are among the world’s best and we should like the old Mesurado way of fishing once again take the lead in producing and exporting fish and fish products,” he said.
The relevance of the project gives meaning to the goal to tighten the knots and bolts of the country’s revenue generation processes, and to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of investors who want to pursue legal and impactful undertakings that will help grow the country’s economy, the VP urged.
He attributed Liberia’s annual loss in the highly profitable fishing industry to the lack of a dedicated port for fish landing and the weak or nonexistent legal framework for the management of fisheries.
He was also critical of the sector’s weak enforcement of fishery regulations and the lack of a functional fisheries monitoring, surveillance and control system.
“This is what makes the venture so noteworthy justifying the huge amount of effort that is being invested in its actualization. Although it has been a long and arduous journey to today, it is indeed worth it.
“That is why we warmly welcome this timely tilt toward confronting the loopholes that have consistently made it to fall short in many areas of our national drive for transformation,” VP Boakai said.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and the National Port Authority also deserve commendation for such a superb collaboration that has been brought to the doorsteps of what will amount to a great achievement,” said VP Boakai.
The project when completed will surely bank on the assurance that Liberians will see what is fairly theirs in terms of revenue, he said.
The Vice President said that he looks forward to seeing the sprouting of the value-addition ventures around the industry, stimulating operational expansions, creating the opportunity for value addition, marketing and fish trade for improved foreign exchange earnings as well as employment generation.
He asked the ministry to follow up on the assurance given by the Africa Catalytic Growth Fund (ACGF) to secure additional funds for the early completion of the work.
He assured that he will provide his full support to the project and hoped to see a smooth and successful completion of the project.
At the same time, the Minister of Agriculture Moses Zinnah, disclosed that the fishery terminal when completed will boost the agriculture sector.
He said it will direct investors to the country and will help to generate more revenue.
“Billions are expected from the fishery terminal when it is completed and it will further improve the country’s Agriculture sector,” he said.
World Bank Country Manager, Inguna Dobraja, described the project as quite unique because upon completion, it will make available a fish landing platform for 20 local industrial fishing vessels and a terminal that will facilitate export of high value fish products at the port of Monrovia.
The terminal, she said will also create the necessary infrastructure for further investment in developing national fisheries, which in turn will help to create employment for many Liberians and provide sustainable livelihoods for local entrepreneurs.
“Before fish are exported, they must meet quality standards to compete with products on the international markets, therefore, one of the project’s activities is to help establish a well equipped laboratory. The laboratory will be an essential pillar in assuring Liberia’s competitiveness in the sector,” Madam Dobraja said.
She explained that the World Bank is funding the rehabilitation work with a grant the U$7million through its Africa Catalytic Growth Fund (ACGF).
For his part, Lawrence Braimah, the coordinator of WARFP said, the objective of the project is to increase the wealth that marine fish resources can provide to Liberia.
The project is expected to be completed in 11 months.