-APM Terminals to take the lead
The National Port Authority (NPA) has announced that the dredging of the Free Port of Monrovia began yesterday, Tuesday, February 4, 2020.
It may be recalled that several months ago, there were speculations that the Port is dismally performing due to its lack of capacity to host large vessels as it normally would.
The George Weah led government, however, categorically denied the speculations.
The dredging exercise, which is said to have begun yesterday, came following a period of dire scarcity of gasoline on the market.
In a press statement issued yesterday, Malcolm W. Scott, director of communication and public affairs at the National Port Authority (NPA), said: “Consistent with the CDC-led government’s commitment regarding the scheduled dredging exercises, the management of the National Port Authority has with immediate effect commenced a 24/7 dredging of the Free Port of Monrovia.”
The dredging exercise began yesterday at 3 p.m. as a result of the early arrival of the dredger at the Freeport of Monrovia.
According to the press release, the Freeport of Monrovia, which is the largest sea port in the country, the dredging will be done as far as 3.5 meters depth level within entrance channel.
“While the dredging is being executed, vessels up to 10 meters will be allowed to call the Freeport in line with their berthing schedules,” the press statement said.
Scott said the exercise is expected to last for three weeks and, afterwards, vessels up to 60,0000 metric tons (SDWT) will berth at the Freeport.
The press release noted that Van Oord, the world’s largest dredging and marine company, will carry out the dredging of the port, adding that the exercise conforms with the best practice and will ensure improved trade and commerce.
“The NPA Managing Director, Bill Twehway, has expressed optimism that going forward, it will no longer take three to five years before dredging is done; but assured that the required two years maintenance dredging will be carried out accordingly in order to keep attracting bigger and larger vessels to a safer and reliable port to spur trade and commerce,” the NPA release said.
Although the release did not mention who would be responsible for the cost of the dredging, the Daily Observer has reliably learnt that APM Terminals will underwrite the cost of the dredging, due to the Weah administration’s challenged with the provision of the funds to pay for the dredging exercise.
Another anonymous source said President Weah’s visit to the Free Port on Tuesday, February 4, in order to conduct an assessment on how the dredging will occur, was done for the sake of formality but the deal has long been sealed between the government and the APM Terminals.
Headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, APM Terminals is one of the world’s largest port and terminal operators, providing cargo support and container inland services. The company is the fifth largest terminal operator globally and has been operating in Liberia since 2010, during the first term of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.