The National Port Authority and APM Terminals Liberia have executed a dredging project financing and execution agreement under the mandate of the NPA Board of Directors, following extensive discussions on widening the channels of the Freeport of Monrovia.
The agreement which was signed on August 30 — restored — the draft and beam of the harbor channel and approach to the original design levels of 2011.
The restoration of the draft covers the removal of sand sedimentation up to 1,000,000 (one million) cubic meters.
This will restore the original beam or width of vessels to return to 32 meters and a draft of 12 meters as against the recently reduced allowable beam and a draft of 28m and 9.5 meters respectively.
This draft and beam increase is important as it will allow for larger vessels to enter the Freeport, a condition that will lead to larger import parcel sizes. This will directly provide benefits to importers as it will provide a significant offset to the ever-rising cost of vessel leasing per parcel size and ultimately provide inflation reduction to the Liberian consumers.
Upon the NPA Board of Directors approving the program on August 18, the NPA Chairman of the Board, Matthew Gueh said, “Upon reviewing the proposal from APM Terminals Liberia and surveying the situation in the harbor, it was clear something needed to be done urgently.”
“After consultations with Board Directors and the Ministers serving on the Board, a decision was made to move forward with the APM Terminals Liberia proposal,” Gueh added. “The execution of the agreement will not only immediately remedy the current restrictions in the Freeport but also allow for the Freeport to increase the benefit to the business community and all Liberia consumers.”
The momentous agreement is valued at up to US$6 million and includes the use of global expertise in marine engineering, tidal and ocean current engineers, and one of the leading dredging companies globally.
As part of the agreement, APM Terminals Liberia will execute the preliminary engineering studies, procure, contract and execute the dredging program. Also, APM Terminals Liberia will pre-fund the entire value of the program through interest-free financing and recover the cost over the next 36 months through deductions in concession fees paid to the NPA.
Managing Director of APM Terminals Liberia Jonathan Graham commented, “This historic agreement is driven by the notable partnership that has been developed between the various Ministries and Government agencies over the periods.”
“This agreement will better allow both NPA and APM Terminals Liberia to provide a higher level of service and efficiency for the stakeholders of Freeport. We are pleased we were able to work with the various government agencies to ensure all compliance requirements were completed for the NPA Board of Directors to resolve to move forward on our proposal to implement a more sustainable dredging program in Freeport,” Graham.
The dredging program has already begun with the preliminary requirements and mobilization processes and is expected to commence civil works by the start of October and the full program to be completed by the year's end.
Also, because of the deeper understanding of the sedimentation process driving the reoccurring need for maintenance dredging, the dredging program will be executed both with a more sustained result and with the benefit of beach restoration north of the Freeport through the ocean sand disposal process and using the natural currents to spread the sand along the coastline.