A former top official of the National Investment Commission (NIC) who is currently serving as Director General for the National Bureau of Concession (NBC), Madam Ciata Bishop, has disclosed that the continuous raddled state of the Freeport of Monrovia is due to the Concession Agreement.
Madam Bishop told the lawmakers that the bad roads and unremitting increment of tax levy on containers was due to the failure to state the period of implementation of the Port’s modernization, which include infrastructure, the people and the system.
She made the assertion yesterday when she appeared along with the Managing Directors of APM Terminal Liberia and NPA, Mr. Brian Fuggle and Madam Matilda Parker as well as the Acting Chairman of the NIC, George Wisner, before a Joint Special Committee of Concessions and Investments and State Enterprises and Public Accounts.
Madam Bishop informed the Committee that the NBC does not have the statutory right to fully pursue concession companies that are in violation of the Concession Agreements, but only has the authority to monitor, discuss and report.
The NBC Director General’s statements stemmed from an official complaint from the Bong County lawmaker George S. Mulbah, who expressed dissatisfaction over a Concession’s failure to implement agreement to upgrade the Free Port of Monrovia.
In a letter to Plenary, Rep. George Mulbah informed his colleagues that the APM Terminal is yet to live up to terms in the concession agreement to transform and modernize the Free Port of Monrovia to international best standards.
Representative Mulbah argued that many costumers at the Free Port undergo strenuous procedures in clearing their goods because of the poor state of the port and he wants action taken to ensure that AMP implement the terms in the concession agreement.
“It may interest you to note that the management of the Port by APM Terminal has made no difference other than reducing the clearing of goods from a period of ten (10) days to seven (7) days…” Mr. Mulbah stated. “Liberians who are port users usually experience difficulties in clearing their goods; because this company that was contracted to modernize our port to international standards is still using one container-loading crew, thus causing unnecessary delays and more expenses for consignees.”
The APM Terminal MD, Mr. Fuggle, clarified that increment of tax levy on the containers is due to the inflation index derived from the Central Bank of Liberia and the US Bureau of Statistics.
Prior to the APM Terminal’s Contract, the tax levy for a 20 foot container was US$121, while a 40 foot container was US$151. But currently, the 20 and 40 feet containers are US$185 and US$284, respectively.
Mr. Fuggle also said his management has made significant progress in the modernization especially in the system and the employees as well as making impact in the infrastructure.
He revealed that a contract to build the roads had already been signed but due to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) the company fled.
For her part, NPA Managing Director Matilda Parker noted that there are sometimes wherein she and the management of APM Terminal had heated arguments on the increment of tax levy on containers and the sad condition of ports. But she admitted that her hands are tied due to the Concession Agreement.
Meanwhile, the Committees mandated APM Terminal to make available the reasons for the annual inflation on the tax levy and her impression of the current state of Port compared to the past.
For her part, the NPA MD was instructed to provide all performance reports of APM Terminal, while NBC is to state the “good and bad” sides of the contract Agreement. NIC would be part of the revision of all reports.
APM Terminals Liberia operates the Freeport of Monrovia for 25 years, as of October 2010. The Free Port of Monrovia is the gateway to Liberia.
In addition to handling containerized shipments, APM Terminals Liberia is also a multipurpose facility composed of equipment and specialized personnel that handle all kinds of cargo such as rice, cement, latex, unitized or palletized cargo, vehicles, frozen products and timber.