Since the appointment of new Management team of the National Port Authority (NPA) headed by Madam Matilda Parker in mid 2009, the port authority has experienced monumental transformation and improvements despite logistical and human resource capacity challenges that still persist.
With the short time of her stay 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.
Although there are still challenges facing 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 as 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.
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.”
In the formative stages of the master plan, diagnostic studies were conducted to determine the current status of all four (4) ports and subsequently develop a baseline year from which large scale developmental projects can commence. Subsequently, the project team was able to forecast future traffic and market developments, create an authority business plan, develop project concepts, conduct several economic and financial analyses and finally assess the impact and safety of the eco-environment and socio-economic utilizing Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) scoping.
“Discussions are under way to secure third-party user rights at the Buchanan Port to facilitate export of iron ore from Guinea. This will result in significant financial and economic benefit to Liberia. Discussions are also well advanced to meet the requirement for access to port facilities for exports of iron ore from the Bong and Bomi deposits and exports of agricultural produce from Sinoe and Grand Cape Mount.
The Port Authority faces challenges of insufficient space, requiring action by Government to acquire seafront property from county or individuals by purchase or exercise of eminent domain. Another challenge relates to requests from several investors to construct new ports for the export of their products. This must be handled with caution so as not to exacerbate the serious erosion along the entire coastline,” the Liberian chief executive said.