WHEN THE CONCESSION agreement with APM Terminal singed in 2010 by the Ellen Johnson government, only few people opposed it on grounds that it was not in the interest of the country and there was a need to go through it carefully.
BUT AS DARLING of the west at the time, anything that came from the top, whether it was good for the country or not, former president Sirleaf wasted no time. So, when the former head of the port, madam Matilda Parker resisted the agreement, the former president considered her view as one of the ‘noisy majority’.
TODAY, she is gone, but the 25 years concession agreement lives on.
THIS IS NOT a good agreement at all. For instance, in the agreement, no changes can be made until after 25 years of operations. Also, APM terminal has the right to increase tariff at any time it deems necessary.
THE CONCESSION agreement is an investment of about US$120M according to APM terminal. Did the government at the time carry out any investment assessment to know if indeed it was actually US$120m?
UNDER THE agreement, APM Terminal said it will construct a quay, establish efficient yard handling procedures, and install new equipment required to transform the Liberian port into “a more competitive, world class facility capable of handling modern, deep-draft vessels.”
BUT TODAY, most of those things are not even in sight. For instance, it has less than three forklift of international standard that can offload huge containers. There are not many scanners to scan huge containers.
ALSO, it said it would have an initial annual capacity of 75,000 TEUs and 750,000 tons of general cargo. We are told that such has not been met.
WHAT IS troubling is that it increase tariff base on predefined formula.
Today, the huge tariff at the port is making it more difficult for Liberians and business people to carry out clearing. Almost everyone is complaining about this deal. As a result to that, many people are using Guinea port as transshipment center. Even the managing Director of the port expressed his displeasure over the deal.
WE THINK that the concession agreement might have been carried out with criminal intent knowing that Liberia was desperate to privatize the port. This is a complete bad agreement which needs to be revisited or resisted.
THIS GOVERNMENT must do all in its power to bring a check on the agreement. One of the reasons for investment in any country is for both the citizens and the investor to benefit, but for one side to benefit all through the life span of the agreement, is wrong.
It is about time that something significant is done for APM Terminal to know it ‘screwed’ poor Liberia. If such is not done, there could one day be revolt that might affect the entire operation of the company.
ACT NOW, the legislature as it falls within your court.