— As Commissioner Eugene Nagbe lays out vision for Liberia’s Maritime Program
The ascendency of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government was greeted by insurmountable challenges with the most pressing being the harsh economic realities exacerbated by spiraling inflation.
These conditions and few others have practically made the little strides being made by the George Weah led government somehow unnoticeable, but there is one thing that cannot be taken away by the CDC administration—its quest not to only ensure that State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and other entities elevate their headquarters to corporate statuses, but to also ensure that government cuts huge spending on rented private properties.
And the government, since its inception, began a massive move to ensure that those SOEs and other public entities construct or complete the construction of their corporate headquarters in addition to the newly constructed Ministerial Complex that now houses many ministries and agencies.
The Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) has therefore become the latest government entity to join a few a state-owned enterprises and agencies, especially the National Port Authority (NPA) and the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), that have acquired and are moving to their own headquarters under the Weah’s administration.
An all smiling LiMA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Commissioner told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview that the authority will be moving to its new corporate headquarters in march this year. According to Commissioner Eugene Nagbe, work is speedily ongoing to ensure that the timetable is met. This monumental achievement comes nearly 73 years since the LiMA came into being.
“We are glad that we will be moving to our new headquarters very soon. This is a dream come true for us and this is a milestone for this administration because this is the first time we well be moving in our own building since the LiMA was established in 1948,” Commissioner Nagbe noted.
The construction of the headquarters began since 2018 but had some hitches; however, the construction swiftly resumed after Commissioner Nagbe’s appointment last year. The infrastructure, in the words of the Commissioner, will bring great relief to the authority especially as it relates to its operations.
“Despite the enormous challenges that greeted the CDC government upon its ascendency, the President and his lieutenants have made significant strides, especially in the areas of roads connectivity, construction of modern markets, giving opportunities to young people to serve in government—and construction of SOEs’ headquarters is another way of spicing up the government’s development drives,” Mr. Nagbe noted.
“It is helping to reduce the huge burden of paying rental fees for the offices of our public institutions,” he said.
There are other infrastructural projects undertaken by the CDC government in addition to the SOEs’ headquarters, such as the 14th Military Hospital, construction of the Pro poor housing units in some parts of the country, the completion of the Omega Market now 14th Gobachup International Market and other markets in other places, and the Presidential street light project.
Nagbe’s Vision for the LiMA
As per his deliberations during the interview, Commissioner Nagbe intends to make the LiMA one of the most vibrant and robust entities of government—visioning to elevate or improve the status of the national registry, putting in place a robust human resource development program as well as collaborating with partners to ensure maritime security.
As a short-term intervention, Commissioner Nagbe disclosed that he plans to reopen the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) next month in Marshall City, Margibi County in order to have more Liberians trained to take up key positions on ships bearing the nation’s flag.
He said a batch of 16 Liberians will soon be departing the country to take up courses at the regional maritime training university in Accra, Ghana.
Commissioner Nagbe also has a long-term vision to turn the institute into a full fledge university so that Liberia can have a more vibrant maritime training programs that will commensurate with its status in the maritime world.
The commissioner wants the institute, which scenic campus is spread over 17 acres and sits at the intersection of the Farmington and Du rivers and the Atlantic Ocean, to transform into a world class learning community of excellence.
“We want the LMTI to provide the highest quality of maritime focused education and vocational skills that will qualify Liberians for domestic and international workforce capacity building,” he noted.
Ship owners around the world require competent and trained seafarers to man their vessels, and according to the former Information Minister, Liberia being the owner of the second largest ship registry in the world, must respond to the needs of its customers and the international market place.
“This makes it a compelling need to facilitate quality training and to produce well-trained, fully qualified and certified seafarers in accordance with international standard or the Standards of Training, Certifications and Watch-keeping (STCW) Conventions and Code.
“It is our vision to return the LiMA to its rightful status globally, while enhancing the capacity and quality of Liberia’s future workforce,” he noted.
He added that the workforce of ships registered with the LISCR is dominated by Indonesians, Brazilians and other nationals.
It is his mission to take the country back to its previous status of being the largest ship registry in the world.
Liberia has the second-largest ship registry with 3726 registered ships, while the largest ship registry in the world remains Panama with a total of 7,072 registered vessels, according to data provided by Vessels Value. Commissioner Nagbe believes that with hard work Liberia can become number one again—a mission he has already started working towards.
“We are committed to doing that and there is a huge possibility that it is achievable. He said the Liberian registry ship that are of high quality and more modern unlike the Panama that has ships as old as 20 years old under its flag—a condition that enable that country to have more ships than Liberia.
“If we decide to register older ships we will surpass Panama, but we don’t want to do that. We have a standardized registry that is up to date,” the Commissioner said, while also speaking strongly against piracy, which is gradually taking a stronghold in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Piracy is becoming a huge concern in the maritime world, especially in our space, the Gulf of Guinea. But we are working with relevant partners especially the US government to address this huge concern,” he added.
Meanwhile, as one of the major contributors to the national budget, Commissioner Nagbe disclosed that the LiMA is still committed and is on the path of remitting a whooping US$11 million to the national budget.