The Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), Mr. Binyan C. Kesseley, has said the maritime sector plays a pivotal role in the rebuilding of the Liberia's economy. According to him, the LMA remains one of the largest contributors to the national budget of the country.
He stated that "clear goals and objectives have been setup" by authorities of the LMA in order to transform Liberia's maritime programs. He made these comments on Thursday, September 20, 2012 at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing held at the Charles Gbenyon Press Hall in Monrovia.
The LMA boss named the coordinating Search and Rescue Committee for five (5) West African countries including Liberia, the launch of the Beaches and Waterways Project, and the revamping of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) as some of the major accomplishments of the LMA.
The LMA boss disclosed that a marine environment has been established to help enhance the protection of a maritime sector. He pointed out that the Beaches and Waterways Project of the LMA provides employment opportunity for about 2,000 Liberians from several communities in Monrovia and its environs. He said about 10% of the LMA budgetary allocation goes towards the project.
Commissioner Kesseley stated that safety regulations and policies for artisanal transport vessels have been developed.
Commissioner Kesseley added that Mari culture and Seawater Desalination has been identified to ensure industrial growth opportunity.
He disclosed that the LMA is currently developing "stronger regulations to protect the maritime sector in the wake of oil exploration in the country." "It is critically important that maritime plays a significant role in the rebuilding of our country's economy. This sector remains committed in major components of job creation. Liberia is making significant gains from revenue generated from the maritime sector," he stated.
Commisioner Kesseley stressed the need for the transitioning of Liberia from a leading maritime program to what he calls a "leading maritime nation." He said new strategies and directions have been designed to address this change. He revealed the construction of the LMA's corporate headquarters, and the provision of job opportunities to over 10,000 Liberians as some of the prospects of the LMA over the next five years.
On the other hand, Commissioner Kesseley identified limited human resource capacity as the major challenge in the maritime sector. He admitted that the sector currently needs trained and professional marine investigators, biologists, engineers and hydrologists, amongst others.
He said much attention needs to be given to the development of human resource in the sector. According to him, foreigners will be given the opportunity if efforts and strategies are not put in place to address the capacity gap in the sector.
"Human resource development remains one of the critical challenges of the LMA. Liberians should be properly trained to manage this sector. We need to give attention to human development in the maritime sector so that professional and trained people can be hired to work for us," he noted.
The head of the LMA also noted that the lack of appropriate funding for technology, infrastructure and logistics remains a challenge to the entity. He named misconception based on perceptions of the past activities of maritime, interruption of funding, coastal surveillance and monitoring, amongst others as confrontations that need to be addressed.