The Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Madam Matilda Parker, has disclosed here that in the midst of the Ebola outbreak, the National Port Authority generated US$26.9 Million in 2014.
Madam Parker has also projected that the nation’s four major ports will receive increase vessels by 2035.
She said the NPA, under her management, has plans to improve ports across the country so that Liberians can have access to job opportunities.
Speaking Thursday, January 15, 2015 at the daily press briefing of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism on Capitol Hill, Madam Parker said the theme of the plan is “Advancing the vision during Ebola”.
She said management has plan not only to increase vessels, but to standardize the ports of Buchanan, Greenville, Harper and the Freeport of Monrovia, respectively which will put them on par with other ports across Africa and the world at large.
According to her, the Freeport of Monrovia currently has about 500 vessels and hopes to increase that number to 4,185 vessels by 2035.
She stressed that by 2035, Liberia should have standardized ports that will have onshore facility like hotels, adding that, if people arrive from a vessel, they will need a place to rest, restaurant to have access to food and clinics, amongst others.
“If you are not efficient and your port is not clean, vessels will not come in your country; tourists and goods will land in the neighboring country,” she said.
The NPA boss said management will need a logistical shorebase, where about 51% of Liberians would have an opportunity to participate in the bidding process, and that the whole process of the shorebase should be managed with $500million for 20 years and seven years experience in shorebase iron ore.
Madam Parker said this will help to empower Liberians and those Liberians that will work on the iron ore shorebase will provide storage for goods, vessels, fuel, water, airplane etc.
She added that with support from the Ministry of Public Works and the World Bank, there are also plans to construct more ports across the country, including a deep water port in Buchanan, which will enable neighboring Guinea to ship her iron ore through the Port of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County.
She said currently, the Freeport of Monrovia is the largest port in the country where 58% of vessels coming into the country berth.
She added that the Buchanan port carries 56% of the summer dead weight that includes engine and other heavy duty materials, while 55% of the container traffic comes through the Greenville port, adding that the Harper port is the smallest in the country and responds to only domestic trade. She said the Port of Harper is an island built by rocks and ships do not land on rocks.
She explained that the strength of any port is determined by the number of vessels it accommodates and the quality of facilities available.
She said the NPA issued waiver to rice vessels during the Ebola outbreak in an effort to avoid price increase, and doubled support to the Government of Liberia by 100%, from US$ 1Million to 2Millions.
She noted that Ebola changed everything, saying that investors were afraid to come to Liberia because of Ebola, and that management spent lot of money on buying sanitary materials for the entrances of ports across the country on a daily basis.
The NPA boss said to help contain the spread of Ebola, all port staff were asked to wear long sleeves clothes before entering port facility, adding such measure made sure Ebola did not enter the port so that ship captains could come freely into the port, knowing that it is Ebola free.
She said the Centers for Disease Control or CDC trained port executives, including security guards on how to contain the Ebola virus.
She said 50% of the staff went home but were still receiving salaries, saying that, those measures were introduced to avoid employees congested in port buses or clustering within the port.