3 August 2012

Liberia: Customs Brokers Take On APM Terminals

The National Customs Broker Association of Liberia has staged a go-slow at the Freeport of Monrovia against the APM Terminal and authorities of the port.

The Brokers in their go-slow called on the committee on concession and contracts at the Liberian Legislature and the National Investment Commission to put an immediate halt to the APM Terminals' current action of reducing the number of free days on goods at the port, while increasing tariff. The association said the action has a propensity to create additional hardship for the people of Liberia.

The Brokers in their statement said before the coming of the APM Terminals at the Freeport of Monrovia, there were existed 15 days free times for goods or containers as of the vessel departure to enable consignees clear their goods to avoid storage or what they called demurrage.

According to the brokers, the APM adapted 10 days from the onset free clearing time, but added that without prior notice, the company has allegedly reduced the timeframe to seven days and increased the tariff by 3% which was accepted by the business community for smooth operation.

Addressing a news conference Thursday, the President of the National Customs Broker Association of Liberia, Gbelly Barmor said the APM Terminals refused to improve services at the port relative to equipment and manpower, among others. Barmor noted that APM lacks the ability to provide the needed services for which they were hired by the Government of Liberia.

He said the APM has also doubled all dockage fees and handling charges for buck cargo, saying "And if we are currently experiencing rapid increase in prices of basic commodities on our market, APM Terminal is a major contributing force to the increase."

He further alleged that the APM bills every reefer container US$50 for power preservation, which according to him is too much. "We appeal for the fees to be US$10 to enable our people eat because every cost incurs will definitely be factored into the selling," he noted. Gbelly said the association has informed government through the ministries of Justice, Finance and Commerce but its concern are being ignored.

This paper could not readily reach the management of APM Terminals, but National Port Authority Managing Director Matilda Parker, has called for calm and urged the Customs Broker to address its concerns through dialogue.

A written communication to the APM from Madam Parker, copy of which is in the possession of this paper requests the APM Terminals management to withdraw the increment of tariff and delay for 12 months the change of storage days from seven to five months.

Madam Parker called on the brokers to cut off the go-slow and return to do the job of the Liberian people, stressing the current go-slow will affect Liberians and not the company.

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