THIS WEEK, THIS newspaper carried a front page story captioned:”I am frustrated,’ in which a Liberian Businessman based in the United States of America (USA), General Manager of Jonathan Supplies Business, Mr. Jonathan B.Wulah Jr. said he is highly frustrated about what he referred to as “mass corruption” at the Freeport of Monrovia, the gateway to the nation’s economy.
IN THAT STORY, Mr. Wulah told this paper that he brought a 44-foot container in Liberia and after his goods had spent one month in the Freeport of Monrovia he paid US$9,000.00 just to clear those goods from the port. He said he is disappointed because corruption at the Freeport of Monrovia is very rampant and it cannot be minimized; everything there is money, money and Port Authority is not doing the right thing to satisfy the customers’ needs and wants, rather they corrupt the whole system.
REACTING TO MR. Wulah’s claims, the NPA in a press release issued yesterday, the entity said the NPA as an Authority no longer controls cargo handling activities at the Freeport of Monrovia due to the APM Terminals concession that took the operations aspect at the port in February 2011 and therefore is not overseeing activities leading to the clearing of containers again, but only provides conduit for concessioners, shipping lines, customers brokers, and truckers to do business.
FURTHERMORE, THE AUTHORITY said it is not involved with any business arrangements taking place between the importers and these service providers and therefore cannot be blamed for whatever wrong that happened in interim. It pointed out that it is incumbent upon the importers to do thorough search for the trustworthy companies and individuals to do business with that will lead to importing and clearing their good containers from the port.
It said as landlord, it has a Custom service office that handles issues of importers experiencing hurdles in doing business at the ports and that it would have appreciated if Mr. Wulah had submitted such complain like other business people do rather than going to the press.
AS RIGHTLY STATED by the port, it is not overseeing activities leading to the clearing of containers again, but only provides conduit for concessioners, shipping lines, customers’ brokers, and truckers to do business. Equally, as the landlord in such a commercial terrain, the NPA should review the activities of these companies and at the same time keep an eagle’s eye on their operations.
ONE OF THE reasons the NPA was asked to surrender some of its functions and duties to a private company, was to bring improvement to the overall operations of the port. Therefore, if such problems that led to such decision exist, there is a need for concern.
LET IT BE known here today that Mr. Wulah is not the only person with such bitter experience of doing business at the port. Many times importers have expressed similar frustration about activities at the port. The NPA and its tenants must embark on an educational program to inform the public on the issue of clearing and its procedures.
WE URGE THE NPA to go beyond mere denial of the claims of Mr. Wulah and others by investigating these claims of corrupt practices. The port is the gateway to the nation’s economy and that any act that has the propensity to discourage users would be detrimental and a bad public relations in attracting people to do business with that institution.
ONCE AGAIN, THE NPA, as the landlord, must investigate these claims to curtail some of the issues being raised by users.