President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has commissioned a contingency Fuel Unloading Facility and Aids to Navigation at the Freeport of Monrovia as an alternative to continue the supply of petroleum products, while a modern fuel unloading facility construction is in progress.
Performing the ceremony on Thursday, 19 May, President Sirleaf urged the port employees to stand up together with their managers to ensure that the National Port Authority or NPA is a first class port equal to anyone within the West African region.
“We are all looking forward to that; we are waiting for this transformation to be accelerated so that it can be finished within the time. And you know, it got to be finished by the end of 2017,” she urged. While commending the port management, Mrs. Sirleaf mandated NPA Managing Director David Williams to torn down and replace unfinished businesses and buildings at the port, noting that she got his word that the port was working on them.
“He assured me that the process has started. He pointed to the construction going on right there. He said ok, APM [Terminals] I think is spearheading the improvement to grounds that will lead to the container park, I believe,” said President Sirleaf, adding that the NPA said it will start the road work.
She made particular commendation to the navigational team, saying for the first time in more than 30 years, the port will now be able to have ships coming in at night – a development she hoped would translate into more employment, more goods, more taxes for the Liberia Revenue Authority or LRA and more activities in port.
“That means, those who are doing, providing goods and services – whether it is the shippers or the stevedores, they will all have more work. And that means more income for them, more income means better housing, more access to electricity and to water and to all those things that provide the comfort of life,” she noted.
She recognized the work of current and past chairpersons and members of the NPA, which the current administration has been building upon, urging that the port be used for the good of Liberia and Africa. NPA Managing Director Williams thanked the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC for the collaboration and cordial working relationship, noting that the financing by the NPA and installation of the Aids to Navigation and its commissioning in the port represented a milestone accomplishment by the government and a major leap in the government’s strives to make its ports regionally competitive and efficient.
He said the contingency Fuel Unloading Facility provides government a redundancy and an alternative to continue the supply of petroleum products on the local market while the construction of the new modern Fuel Unloading Facility is in progress.
“… [But] more importantly, in the event that the fragile old Fuel Unloading Facility currently in use ever fails,” Mr. Williams said, adding that the facility was jointly paid for by the managements of the NPA and the LPRC.
He said the commissioning of the Aids to Navigation sets the stage to take the NPA from 12-hours of operation to a 24-hours for the first time in over 30 years. Mr. Williams, however, noted that it would require coordinated efforts by the NPA, LRA, APM Terminals, BIVAC and all stakeholders to be ready to provide the services -meaning more trade and commerce and a boost to the economy.
APM Terminals Managing Director George Adjei expressed excitement as he reported to President Sirleaf that the Aids to Navigation will make movements of night -time vessels possible. He said it would bring great benefits to the shipping community of Liberia, while vessels operators will also benefit from a ‘quick turn-around” of their vessels as APM Terminals is now well-equipped to breadth and sail vessels at any time of the day.
Also making remarks, LPRC Managing Director Sumo Kupee recalled that the project was conceived about two years ago by stakeholders at an initial estimate of a million dollars, but executed “40 percent below the original price” following rigorous review.
He assured President Sirleaf that “we” can now rely on the supply of fuel on the Liberian market in the event of a collapse of the jetty that is being constructed at the port.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by George Barpeen