By Oxcea Wheagar, UL Mass Communication Department
The Liberia Business Association (LIBA) has decried the recent 10% increment of tariff by APM Terminals at the Freeport of Monrovia.
LIBA said in a press conference Friday, March 1, 2019 at its headquarters in Paynesville that it is taken aback that APM Terminals has increased a container handling charge by 10 percent in order to meet demands of its effective port operations.
“APM Terminals said its decision to increase tariffs is supported by the 2010 Concession Agreement it has signed with the government,’ LIBA’s press statement read by its president James Mozart Strother, said.
He said if APM Terminals’ reliance is the clause quoted from the concession agreement, then it is unfortunate. “If this is their reliance for continuously imposing indirect hardship on the Liberian people, we say it is unfair and unacceptable,” he said.
He added that while the Liberia Business Association supports foreign investments in the country for the sake of stimulating economic growth, “we are not comfortable with the contents of some of the provisions in concession agreements which impose an undue financial burden on local businesses and the Liberian people in general.”
Strother also said the number of days given to consignees or people whose goods arrive at the National Port Authority (NPA) to clear their containers before storage charges are imposed is unrealistic.
“We call on the APM Terminals to be sensitive to the plight of Liberians who are doing their best to remain in business and contribute to the development of their economy,” Strother said. “The number of free days should be adequate enough to allow the necessary formalities to be put in place for consignees to get their containers out.”
Mr. Strother also called on the Liberian government to ensure that APM Terminals applies “Liberia’s specific system and procedure in order to remain a good corporate citizen,” or else the LIBA will have no other alternative but to call for the revocation of the concession agreement by government and APM Terminals.
He said due to the hike in storage fees by APM Terminals, a number of shipping companies have increased their freight charges, which ultimately affect the end users of imported goods in Liberia.
Strother said considering the recent call by President George Weah on the Legislature to review all concession agreements, it is time that APM Terminals’ agreement is reviewed.
LIBA called on the Liberian government to act in the best interest of the country, and must not protect any foreign company at the detriment of the country.
APM Terminals Liberia in a release on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, its Managing Director George Adjei said: “It has become inevitable to increase our tariff to meet the demands of effective port operations and the ever-increasing cost of operations.”
He added, “To help lessen the plight of our valued customers, we will be deferring reduction in storage free days again even though our concession agreement allows for the storage free days adjustments.”
Adjei said the 10% increase is in line with the concession agreement signed with the Liberian government since September 2010 and it allows for a yearly increase in tariff.