In 2019, the George Weah-led administration through the National Port Authority (NPA) signed a container tracking deal with Global Tracking and Maritime Solutions (GTMS) – a company chased out of Sierra Leone for allegedly defrauding the Sierra Leonean government over US$11 million. Based on the agreement, GMT Solutions was allowed to track all containers coming to and passing through all sea ports in the country at an additional fee of US$175.00.
The GTMS agreement with the Liberian government stipulated that Each Bill of Lading must be covered by a valid unique Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) number which is inserted on the Cargo manifest. Shipments not covered by a valid CTN number will not be unloaded and fines may apply to the carrier or shipping agent in connection to the shipment. Sadly, the agreement brought an additional financial burden to businesses and consumers but also led to duplicating requirements that are already being complied with by the importers of cargo into the country through the Bureau Inspection Valuation Assessment Control (BIVAC).
In Sierra Leone, President Julius Maada Bio terminated the government’s contract with GTMS for corruption and poor management at the Water Quay seaport in 2019, yet, President George Weah embraced the GTMS. An investigation conducted into the running of the Water Quay seaport found that the GTMS had colluded with ministers and officials to defraud the state of US$11 million.
According to sources, over US$22 million is generated per year under the GTMS scheme in Liberia but it only benefits a few individuals in the government. According to sources, sixty (60%) percent of the money generated goes to President Weah while twenty percent (20%) goes to the bogus company in Sierra Leone and the remaining twenty (20%) goes to a Lebanese-owned company Sidane (Zidane).
In 2021, the Weah-led government signed a 10-year agreement with MedTech Scientific Limited (MTS), Qatar's service provider in the health and technology sectors, to carry out Destination Inspection of containers at Liberia's seaports. The Liberian House of Representatives (HOR) through its committees on commerce and concession initiated an investigation into an alleged contract scandal worth over US$18 million.
The Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority, Thomas Doe Nah, informed the committee that the contract was worth US$18 million. The LRA Commissioner General told me and other members of the committee that the agreement with MedTech did not pass through the Legislature because it is a service contract. Was the MedTech agreement with the LRA in breach of the Public Financial Management Law of 2009? The law states that any contract having a financial value of US$10 million and above should meet Legislative approval. Section one of the PFM Act, under the title “general rules and regulations” calls for openness and accountability in the use and management of public funds. Also, the roles of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) are the collection of taxes and enforcement of tax laws/ revenue codes. Why is the LRA delegating its responsibilities to MedTech? MedTech is charging over US$450 per container. The latest charge represents a 200 percent increment from a previous charge of US$250. Who benefits from the US$20 million MedTech collects?
According to sources, Senator Edwin Snowe, former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill, Lebanese business outfit Petro Trade, and President Weah have been involved in a criminal syndicate to keep the price of diesel fuel well above world market prices. According to sources, they are reaping about US$25 million per month which they share amongst themselves.
The Weah-led government has robbed thousands of well-meaning citizens who are shipping goods to the country for business, personal, and charitable causes, who are faced with exorbitant costs of clearing their goods, and debilitating and unnecessary delays at the Water at the freeport of Liberia.
We are arguing the new administration under Honorable Joseph Nyuma Boakai to investigate these issues upon assumption of office on January 15, 2024. We urged him to scrap the CTNM within 100 days and have the account audited as well as the MedTech and the Petro Trade-led Syndicate. The Weah business cartel must be dismantled at all costs. Those that have ears, let them hear.
The opinions expressed in this are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Daily Observer.