Port Dredging Kicksoff

NPA Managing Dierector, Bill Twehway on a dredging machine at the Free Port of Monrovia

-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.


  1. Thank you for taking the initiative to underwrite the costs of dredging the Liberian port, ATM Terminals.
    However, we will foot the bills. Know that we are quick to say, “our port”, “our this”, “our that” yet we do not even know how to maintain or upgrade the “our this” or “our that”

  2. It has not been traditionally the Government that provides (out of its budget) “the funds to pay for the dredging exercise” carried out by the National Port Authority (NPA) periodically. It has been the NPA’s responsibility and mandate as an autonomous statutory State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) that derives its revenues (millions of dollars annually) from port services it provides, leases, licenses, fees, etc. The President must (my sincere opinion) be applauded for his visit to the Port – the importance/significance (to Liberia) of the ongoing dredging exercise to restore the required width and water depth level of the harbour’s entrance channel, not to mention the water depth levels alongside the designated berthing facilities and turning basins (especially the commercial quay and the new Fuel Unloading Facility), cannot be overemphasized under prevailing circumstances. The Freeport of Monrovia is the nation’s largest and main seaport, with over 90 percent of all imports arriving there.
    The “Concession Agreement” consummated in 2010, was between the NPA and APM Terminals Liberia Limited (obviously ratified by the Legislature and approved by the former President). APM Terminals, Liberia Limited is the “Concessionaire”, the NPA is the “Concession Entity”, and the Government of Liberia is the only NPA’s stock holder.
    Incidentally, the “deal” must have been “sealed between” the Management of the NPA and APM Terminals, Liberia Limited – not the Government – in good faith as a Public-Private–Partnership. And this is not an abnormal practice between such partnerships. The NPA Management will indubitably reimburse the Concessionaire, as was done for the procurement and installation of Aids to Navigation few years ago, under the David F. Williams Administration, but for a lesser amount, comparatively speaking, according to a reliable source. I sincerely commend the good and effective partnership demonstrated, and God Bless Liberia and its people.

    • Thank you for these details, I highly appreciate!

      However, I know that the NPA’s leadership is appointed by the government in line with its policies and objectives; commercial and financial.
      So, are you telling us the government should leave any heavy developmental works requiring substantial sums to the NPA’s management?

      Really, I appreciate your contribution here. You are making us to learn a lot of things as an experienced person.


  3. Mr. Massaquoi,
    You seem to know a whole lot about the Freeport. You may have worked there or maybe you’re still employed there. In any case, it’s all good. Personally, I am befuddled as why it is referred to as the “Freeport”. Goods that arrive at the Freeport are not free, right? My second point (based on the fact that you speak from experience) is this…… Does the government of Liberia have any plans to enlarge or build a newer quay?

    The port of Monrovia was not built by the Liberian government, but rather by the US government during World War ll in order to handle its military equipment. We cannot pretend neither can we lend a blind eye about the realities of Liberia. For instance, bigger and modern ships have been built since the 1940s. The country’s population has increased since the 1940s. Because of that reality, it makes life miserable for larger ships to quickly dock or unload their goods.

    Are you hearing anything about enlightenment?
    Or can Liberia afford to build a new port?


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