LiMA:  100-Day Deliverable Accomplishment And Advances

Introduction:

Following his epic election and subsequent inauguration as President of the Republic of Liberia, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai launched his Administration’s 100-day deliverables targeting significant areas consistent with the ARREST Agenda, which is an acronym for Agriculture, Roads, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation, and Tourism. Some key areas of emphasis include Roads, rule of law, transparency & accountability; Agriculture, Education, Tourism, sanitation, drug abuse, and youth development.

To ensure that the government substantially impacts the 100-day Deliverables, all government institutions, including ministries, State Owned Entities (SOEs), and agencies, were encouraged to identify essential deliverables to target and accomplish within 100 days. In adherence to this critical mandate, the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), under the dynamic and visionary leadership of Commissioner/CEO, Cllr. Neto Zarzar Lighe, Sr. identified four (4) key targets as its 100-day deliverables. Below, the targets are chronicled and effectively discussed in detail:

  1. a) Safety and emergency response mechanism
  2. b) Administrative Regulations
  3. c) Legal and Legislative Issues
  4. d) And Revenue Accountability

Safety and Emergency Response Mechanism:

The Authority set a target to invest in building the response capabilities of the Monrovia Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRMRCC). The Regional MRMRCC is in compliance with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) operating standard relative to coordinating response and safety capabilities for search and rescue incidents and other maritime incidents in the Gulf of Guinea Search and Rescue Region. There have been regular meetings between member countries with the EU as a partner to combat piracy and enhance the security and safety of navigation. In 2020 alone, there were 84 attacks on ships and about 135 seafarers were abducted in the Gulf of Guinea. This amounted to a 10% increase in piracy over 2019. To date, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea accounts for over 90% of all maritime-related kidnappings globally.

The effort to strengthen the MRMRCC has seen an effective coordination between the navies and coast guards of member states particularly in terms of sharing information in real-time, to adequately respond to and in a number of cases, prevent further attacks of ships.

The MRMRCC office is fully functional as it is equipped with modern equipment to effectively perform the task of response and safety. The newly equipped MRMRCC facility is set and awaiting an IMO audit in November 2024. This is no doubt a major accomplishment with far-reaching impact on Liberia’s maritime industry.

Administrative Regulations: 

The Liberian Maritime Regulations were amended in August 2022 to bring the maritime regime in concert with advancements in the vessel financing industry. The amendments regulate vital filing requirements, mortgage recording, and reporting. The Authority’s objective under Commissioner Lighe is to ensure that realistic and attainable growth approaches are developed to improve marine services. The Authority has completed this review and will continue to publish Marine Notices in keeping with the Maritime Law and Regulations to assist vessels and crew remain in compliance with the Regulations.

  1. Legal and Legislative Issues: The Authority undertook a targeted review of the Maritime Law and is undertaking to submit to the National Legislature a draft legislation to give effect to port state and coastal state obligations which would authorize Liberia to do inspections of foreign vessels at its ports. Although Liberia is already in compliance with IMO standards to this effect, through our existing Port State Control regime and regulation, the amendments to the Maritime Law will strengthen the underlying port and coastal state enforcement regime.
  1. Revenue Accountability: The Authority undertook a review of the Maritime Safety Charges (MSC), remittance, and disbursement, and initiated a financial reconciliation of all MSC charges from 2018 to 2023.

The Commissioner/CEO set an aggressive timeline for the achievement of these deliverables and the Authority has met all target dates for accomplishment. He has reiterated that the 100-day deliverables are not an end of function or end of service, instead, these deliverables are the cornerstone for the medium and long-term strategic goals of the Authority. As a result, The Commissioner continues to work towards ensuring the full accomplishment of the Authority’s Strategic Plan.

Key areas of the Strategic Plan include training of Liberians in various maritime fields and improving the quota of women in the Liberian maritime industry, building an annex to the Maritime headquarters, establishing a global maritime Library with both online and paper publications, reviving the MARINE MONITOR magazine which was the industry magazine published by the Authority, and bringing into full operation, the Domestic Vessel Registration Program.

The Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI):

The Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) was established in 1986 in Marshall City, Margibi County to train Liberians for service on-board ships engaged in international commerce. The Institute suffered tremendous damage during the civil conflict, and was revitalized by an innovative agreement between the Government of Liberia and the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR). Today, the Institute is fully functional with the total enrollment of 24 cadets attending in a 2-year cycle. Graduates from the Institute go on to the Regional Maritime University in Accra, Ghana to obtain their Bachelor of Science degrees.

The Institute also conducts a number of modular IMO mandated courses, including STCW certification courses for marine personnel to obtain their Seafarer Certification, and mandatory continuing professional seafarer training for seafarers after one year of sailing.

On May 16, 2024 LMTI proudly graduated 24 cadets with Associate Degrees in Marine Engineering. President Boakai served as the Keynote Speaker at their Commencement and in his keynote address expressed the vision to increase the enrollment at the institution from the current number of just twenty-four (24) students per training cycle to an appreciable number that reflects Liberia’s readiness to supply the global maritime industry with trained professionals on a large scale.

For his part, Commissioner Lighe stressed that this feat would require investing in continuous training of a highly skilled workforce that is inclined to discipline, innovation, and able to foster strong networks in the working environment.

He noted that it is thus critically important that we take deliberate steps aimed at making the needed investment in improving the infrastructure of our maritime training program because strong maritime infrastructure plays a critical role in effective training for future seafarers.  He said it is based on the uncompromising desire to continue on the path of excellence, that he is endeavoring to improve and expand the existing infrastructure of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) which sits at the “core of our vision for the maritime sector of Liberia”. And the greater vision is to upscale the LMTI to a full-fledged university that will provide all marine disciplines at Bachelor and Master Degrees levels.

This vision, according to him, encapsulates expanding the campus of the institution to provide a more realistic training environment. Towards this end, facilities such as the academic building and staff housing quarters should be renovated; also, the student dormitory requires expansion to cater to the contemplated increase in enrollment at the institution.

Increase Women’s Quota In Maritime Labor Force:

Statistics show that women’s quota in the maritime industry labor force is at an unacceptable 1.3% or 24,059 out of the 1.89 million seafarers globally. These nerve-wrenching statistics have reached a spoiling point so much so that Commissioner Lighe has committed his leadership to rewriting the narrative of traditional hindrances that have unjustly neglected the inclusion of capable women in the recruitment of seafarers. He said he would do this by taking deliberate steps through the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI). Commissioner Lighe, however, recognized the progress that is being made in the industry to allow women to play critical roles and break barriers.

The Commissioner spoke at the International Day for Women in Maritime, where he bemoaned the low number of females enrolled in the institution and promised to work more diligently to increase the present enrollment statistics of only two females out of the twenty-four cadets who graduated. This record of low female enrollment has been consistent since the school started putting graduates out.

International Day for Women in Maritime was established in 2021 to celebrate women in the industry and is intended to promote the recruitment, retention, and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime. It is celebrated annually on 18 May. The Authority sponsored this year’s celebration at Musu’s Spot, a 100% Liberian Woman owned event center in Monrovia, and the Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, Madam Gbeme Horace-Kollie served as the Keynote Speaker. Minister Horace-Kollie emphasized the essential contributions of women in the maritime industry and lauded the commitment of the Liberia Maritime Authority to empower more women. She underscored the need to address ongoing gender disparities and called for collective efforts to empower women through technical training and inclusive policies. Minister Horace-Kollie urged stakeholders to ensure that women do not only participate but also lead in the maritime sector, envisioning a future of equality and opportunity.

 

Headquarters Annex:

An additional key objective outlined by the Commissioner is the construction of an Annex to the Maritime Headquarters. Since its completion in 2021, staffing and functional requirements of the Maritime Program has outgrown the Headquarters space. Significant improvements have been made to provide adequate support for broadband connectivity and integrative communications. The Commissioner’s vision is to create a seamless link between Headquarters and the Program’s global offices both in terms of communication and transfer of information. The Annex will not only provide space for the Program’s additional staffing needs but will be wired for the connectivity he envisions for the entire Program.

The MARINE MONITOR:

Another key objective is the revitalization of the Authority’s global industry magazine, the quarterly MARINE MONITOR. The MONITOR will be published in Monrovia, and will bring the Authority and the global Program to the world. Local and international staff, as well as international experts, industry leaders, movers and innovators will be featured in the MONITOR. When it was launched The MONITOR was highly acclaimed, and that same level of professionalism and integrity in publication will guide the new MONITOR.

 

Maritime Library:

The Authority is planning to establish a global print and online maritime library which will house scholarly and other informative works. The Library is also envisioned to house a comprehensive historical database of maritime records of public content. The Library will be located at the Headquarters and will be open to the public at select times, to coincide with operational requirements.

Domestic Vessel Registration Program:

The Authority’s Flagship service is the Domestic Vessel Registration Program.  Commissioner Lighe has emphasized that the Domestic Vessel Registration Program will complement the international registration service in that domestic vessels will be subject to the highest industry standards of maritime safety, anti-pollution and crew protections. The Commissioner is committed to ensuring the alignment of the goals of the Authority’s Port State Control mechanism (PSC) with the Domestic Vessel Registration Program covering the condition of domestic vessels and ensuring that their equipment comply with international regulations and standards and applicable international maritime rules and conventions.

Conclusion:

The Liberia Maritime Authority diligently achieved its 100-Day Deliverables, despite the aggressive timelines set by administration. “This accomplishment is credited to the dedicated and hardworking staff of the institution who on every passing day work the hardest to make LiMA shine to the fullest”, said Commissioner Lighe whose leadership over these 100 plus days has been incredibly outstanding. Notwithstanding, the Authority’s deliverables are not end results, rather the building blocks for its broader Strategic Plan. Commissioner Lighe has therefore set in place periodic target lines for reviewing and expanding on these deliverables. The Strategic Plan remains the overall vision of the Authority and the achievement of these deliverables are a step in the right direction for the growth and success of the Liberian Maritime Program.

Published by: The Department of Corporate Communications

                        Liberia Maritime Authority

                        Oldest Congo Town, Monrovia

                         Republic of Liberia

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