The Success Story Of The National Port Authority For Five Years Under Matilda Wokie Parker – NPA Transformation Greeted With Applauds

Her able and professional administrative leadership at the National Port Authority for five years as Managing Director has won the hearts and minds of Liberians, making specific reference of the high level of transformation since she was appointed by the Liberian leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf five years ago.

Pouring praises on the NPA boss for her success story today at the headquarter of the entity, Chairman and members of the Board of Directors recounted her works over the past years; transforming facilities at the four seaports of Liberia, namely: the Freeport of Monrovia, Greenville Port, the Port of Buchanan, and the Port of Harper.

Her able leadership as Managing Director of the NPA over the years provided strategic direction in the management, planning, and development of all ports in the country; making every sector of these ports to regain their prewar status as a result of her leadership as head of the nation’s Gateway to its economy.

Her administrative assignment at the NPA, MD Parker and her team of industrious lieutenants have been able to ensure that the ports of Monrovia and Buchanan reach security level one, revenue generation has grown significantly from US$18million in 2009 to US$21 million in 2011 due to the transparent fiscal policy put in place and cargo handling has improved as well.

The objective of this plan is to identify a comprehensive strategy that outline infrastructure requirements, a comprehensive business plan and provisions for adequate capacity building to actualize the NPA’s vision to become a “Premier Port Authority in West Africa.”

Despite of challenges at the country’s port system particularly in terms of human resource capacity, logistics and technological enhancement, the level of achievements made so far under the Matilda Parker’s stewardship have not gone unnoticed as President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf recently publicly acknowledged that “the National Port Authority has performed well to counter the situation in which the lack of maintenance over decades left our seaports in dire straits.”

President Johnson-Sirleaf’s statement was contained in her annual message to the 3rd Session of the 53rd National Legislature on Monday, January 27, 2014 on Capitol Hill.

The Liberian leader named the completion of a 25-year Port Master Plan, which includes investment in human capacity development; under a public-private partnership arrangement, the 600-meter Marginal Wharf and the mining pier at the Freeport of Monrovia were completed; dredging and development at the Sinoe and Buchanan Ports have improved efficiency, with Buchanan judged ready for 24-hour operations.

Due to her professional leadership, several emissaries accredited to Liberia and other high profile delegations during the year under visited the port authority and praised the NPA management team for its ingenuity and farsightedness in working towards making the ports of Liberia top rate in West Africa.

Amongst them was the United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac who praised the NPA boss during her visit at the ports of Monrovia, and Buchanan.

During these visits, the US envoy said she visited the port to see what the leadership of Ms. Parker was doing and to get to know the plans that are afoot for not just the port of Monrovia but also for other ports across the country.

Ambassador Malac observed that a lot of progress was being made under the administration of Madam Parker she added:  “You know when you start with everything being sort of turned down during the war, just to patch it takes a lot of resources and I think they’ve made a good start.”

The ambassador added that she will be looking out for any opportunity that would be available under the new NPA’s strategic plan for American companies to participate.

“She clearly got a vision as to where she wants things to go…” the US envoy said of the NPA managing director.

Prior to joining NPA IN 2009, Madam Parker served as a senior director at AT&T in the United States, a position she served with dignity, and professionalism. She also held senior positions at Nextel (now Sprint) and GlobalOne (now Equant).

She extends her leadership acuity to her community through charitable endeavors benefitting sports, seniors, youth, and children, as illustrated through the Matilda Parker Foundation, a personal philanthropic effort. Her affinity for giving back to her community stems from the guidance and support she received from her family, church, community, and schools in her formative yea.    

During one her interviews with reporters, the NPA boss spoke of improving the infrastructure of the port at between $30-35 million. She noted that the money is needed to set up the logistical showbase for this year. She added that a similar amount will be needed for the same purpose next year.

“When my administration took over, the Freeport of Monrovia actually handled 97% of the country’s traffic. That was a single point of failure; in the event that anything happens to the roads leading to Monrovia, the rest of the country would be stifled.  So, we have worked very hard in being able to spread all of the services across. We are not quite there yet but we are proud to say Monrovia now handles about 67% of traffic; Buchanan handles about 21% and the rest,” Ms. Parker said.

In terms of security, Ms. Parker told the visiting US envoy that during her tenure at the NPA, with the ingenuity of the Director of Liberia Seaport Police (LSP), Col. Ashford Pearl, the NPA has been able to reach the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) standard compliant in Monrovia and Buchanan and security level one as well as of March 2010. The MD also noted that efforts are being made to achieve similar feat at the port of Greenville this year.

The success story of the NPA has indeed being spread like wide fire, as many are lauding the management of the port for its high level of transformation making sure that Liberians are proud of its services and worth.

Congratulations to the Managing Director of the NPA, Madam Matilda Wokie Parker for a job well done.

By: Joel Cholo Brooks

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