— Commissioner Nagbe asserts
The Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), Lenn Eugene Nagbe, says the institution is unlocking opportunities for gainful employment of Liberians through the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) empowerment program and improved shipping of goods.
Commissioner Nagbe made the assertion on Friday, March 5, 2021, in Marshall during the re-opening of Liberia Maritime Training Institute which was graced by President George M. Weah, Deputy Speaker J. Fonti Koffa, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel Tweah, General Services Agency Director Mary T. Broh and the authorities of Maritime.
Commissioner Nagbe said in spite of the impact of COVID-19, the right protocols were applied to enable the authority to re-open the institution to give opportunities to this cohort of cadets who when trained, certificated, and accredited will have the opportunity to earn their living.
“Before, when there’s a ship at a port of Buchanan that encounters any problem like a propeller issue, they will have to send for someone in Amsterdam to come and untangle, but today, a group of Liberians have been trained and certificated by LMA to perform said function,” Commissioner Nagbe said.
According to Commissioner Nagbe, Liberia has the best shipping registry globally and the second-largest shipping country in the world but with low seafarers, something he said his administration is ready to change.
“Why are we the best in the world but don’t have more seafarers on vessels around the world? It’s because Liberia as a country and LMTI has not developed the capacity of our young people. We have not given them the training and prepared them for service until now,” Commissioner Nagbe said.
Commissioner Nagbe said unemployment can be addressed through building the capacity of young people in society, which the President through LMA is doing now. He indicated that the last graduates of LMTI were provided working visas by the United States.
“We have more people who are interested not just in marines engineering but different areas on the ship like cook, carpenter, and mechanic, but these require people to be trained and certificated. We will continue to give opportunities to young people. We will increase the cohort of cadets moving forward,” Commissioner Nagbe indicated.
The Liberia Maritime Training Institute was launched in 1948 and the program has been growing from strength to strength and continued to have unique partnerships with other countries, according to Commissioner Nagbe.
Commissioner Nagbe said his administration along with partners has decided to also conduct an International Shipping Port Security (ISPS), which has been developed by nations to ensure that they prevent terrorism and harmful substances transported from port to port.
Commissioner Nagbe said his administration is now working with partners to also conduct an IMO audit in order for Liberia to get the proper certification and accreditation.
“While this is important for a Liberian to transport a vehicle from the port of Amsterdam to Liberia, it caused three times more than to transport that same vehicle from Amsterdam to Conakry because of high insurance premier. Once we fail to meet these internationally accepted benchmarks and protocols, our commerce will continue to suffer which has a direct impact on the livelihoods of everyone,” Nagbe said.
According to him, this is responsible for the high cost of goods on the Liberian market, stating “The mandate has been issued to us to ensure that Liberia is fully in compliance with all protocols that we have signed on as a port state.”
Commissioner Nagbe said Liberia is no longer blacklisted as not having the rightful security, and his administration will continue to work with partners to ensure that Liberia complies with national and international protocols and regulations.
He lauded the Government and People’s Republic of China for signing a cooperation agreement with Liberia noting “Our registry has opened two offices in China and we are using that as a platform to encourage more cooperation between the two countries.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner Nagbe said all is now set for the cutting of the ribbon at the end of March to the LMA’s Headquarters, which will help save money used for rental fees.
President George M. Weah said he was delighted to witness the formal opening of the LMTI after it closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The continuous operation of this institute is essential in the building of our country as a maritime nation. To date, it remains the first place of exposure for Liberians interested in maritime studies,” President Weah said.
“Amid the closure of the institution because of the coronavirus, we still have all of the equipment set and ready for use. This is good for us. We have state-of-the-art equipment of the 21st century and it’s important for you as students to take advantage of it, especially the technology here,” President Weah said.
According to President Weah, the 24 cadets who graduated in 2019 are doing very well at their various places of work after receiving gainful employment.
President Weah urged the 24 cadets to appreciate the opportunity provided them in studying and coming out with the best results on time. The students are expected to graduate in less than a year, according to President Weah.
Avi Zaidenberg, chairman of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI), lauded President Weah for the support and promised to continue to work hard in having the best coming out of the institute.