The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and port operator APM Terminals Liberia have launched the Port Automation and Digitization (PAD) project at the Freeport of Monrovia.
The launch of the project comes after months of consultations and engagements with stakeholders, a release says.
The launch heralds a new phase of computerized processes at the Freeport of Monrovia which eliminates paper and reduces human interface as much as possible.
This will significantly improve the efficiency of both custom clearance processes and terminal operations in the long term and reaffirm the Freeport of Monrovia’s position as the gateway to the economy of Liberia and the Mano River Union.
At a ceremony attended by a wide swath of government and business leaders, various speakers emphasized the importance of this new initiative to the efficiency of port processes, ease of doing business and revenue mobilization.
Minister of Finance & Development Planning and keynote speaker, Mr. Samuel Tweah, commended APM Terminals Liberia and partners for the historic and transformative initiative.
“Digitizing the Port comes with numerous benefits to the economy in terms of ease of doing business and revenue mobilization.”
“This development has the full endorsement and support of His Excellency President George Weah, whose policies have been focused on strengthening our economy to boost trade and business and create opportunities for all,” said Minister Tweah.
“It is in this light that I commend APM Terminals Liberia and partners for launching this initiative and for their collaboration in making sure that we achieve full success with Port Automation and Digitization” Mr. Tweah noted.
Mr. Thomas Doe Nah, Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), implementing partner of the project, highlighted the importance of Port Automation and Digitization to the Authority’s mandate of revenue collection.
“As a key partner to this initiative, we are convinced about its potential to help us deal with loopholes and leakages often facilitated by human interventions so that we can maximize port revenue as we should,” Mr. Nah remarked.
Spearheading the project is APM Terminals Liberia whose Managing Director, Jonathan Graham was full of gratitude to the various partners.
Mr. Graham stressed the need for even stronger partnerships with PAD journey, in the roll out of the project.
He added that such is the only way that the Freeport of Monrovia can be transformed into a modern port serving Liberia and the sub region.
“Today is a very significant day in the history of the Free Port of Monrovia. The strong partnership between us and the various port stakeholders has been demonstrated once again and we are immensely grateful to all the players who have worked with us from project conception to implementation,” he said.
“Let me please reiterate the importance of these partnerships. They are crucial to us, and we see it as the only way we can collectively transform the Free Port of Monrovia,” Mr. Graham said.
The Technical Team Leader of the project for APM Terminals Liberia, and Regional Customer Products & Services Lead in Africa, Middle East & Asia, Mr. Metus Freeman, spoke of the preparatory work done by the partners in the lead up to this launch.
He said the various logistics, technical know-how and training have all been provided to ensure a smooth implementation.
Mr. Freeman promised that all that is necessary will be done to bring convenience to every stakeholder in the process.
“We have had several collaborative training sessions with Custom Brokers, Importers, MTS, Banks and LRA officials on the process.”
“What we are launching today is the product of strong collaboration between all our partners and different stakeholders, and especially LRA, and we have all worked diligently to provide the knowledge and tools needed to achieve maximum efficiency.” Mr. Freeman explained.
Previously, customers had to manually submit their declarations, go through assessment, raise checks and proceed to pay before the Customs Broker and obtain customs release to present to APM Terminals Liberia for terminal release for onward inspection and trucking.
These processes took about 5 days to complete. These were reduced significantly with the initial steps of implementation of the digitization process.
With the full-scale automation and digitization, the process is expected to be reduced even further, saving productive hours and bringing convenience to both Custom Brokers and customers.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry Mawine Diggs, observed that this new and improved way of doing business at the Freeport will have a positive effect on trade and commercial activities in Liberia as importers are able to clear their goods in good time, less costly and get them onto the market.
The project has also received strong support from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Development, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), National Port Authority (NPA), Central Bank of Liberia, Custom Brokers Association, MTS, LBDI, Ecobank, GT Bank, Maersk, CMA CGM, and MSC and customers of the Free Port.