columnBy Roland Perry
The Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA) Madam Matilda W. Parker has threatened to sue the Management of the Informer newspaper for a recent publications on the NPA.
The Informer, in its Tuesday, February 18, 2013 edition published a story entitled "NPA/MD Admits to Lodging Four Ghanaian Consultants in Family Residence. .......says all hotels in town were booked."
Recently, the NPA hired four Ghanaian consultants headed by Mr. Ben Owosu in the areas of Tenants Management, Finance, operations and Marine services. She also admitted to hosting the four consultants in her family home, (the same house she currently live in), on a 'pro bono' basis and on humanitarian grounds.
The NPA however is said to have budget funds to cover the expenses of the four consultants including their feeding, lodging and transportation for a six months period.
Already, the hiring of the four Ghanaian consultants is creating serious misunderstanding among employees of the entity, as some members of the senior management team who spoke to this paper on anonymity said the decision to hire the four consultants was singlehandedly done by Madam Parker without the blessing of the Board of Directors of the NPA.
In a telephone interview with a Magazine show on ELBC in Paynesville, (Super Morning Show), Madam Parker said "my legal department will be writing both the Informer and Immigration; I see this as a character assignation, and I am going to pursue it." She said.
Interestingly, Madam Parker on the same medium also confirmed the informer story of hiring and lodging the consultants, but said the NPA has not and will not pay a cent for hosting the Ghanaians at her family residence.
She also disclosed that the NPA has one Liberian who is qualified for the job, but was not given it as she rather preferred to contract the Ghanaians.
Madam Parker further indicted that she did not ignore the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) regulations; even though, there is information concerning public bidding process.
According to Madam Parker, the four consultants came into the country on February 1, 2013, the same period when the High Level Partner (HLP) Meeting was taking place in the country.
Madam Parker said "all hotels in the city were booked by delegates of the HLP Meeting, so I was constrained to host the consultants at my residence.
The four men needed to be hosted at the same place which made it complicated during that time. I feel that I did something good which is being as into something bad."
She said the consultants are in the country to train Liberians, as part of the port master plan. 'They will also train Liberians to help validate the NPA's ability to execute the port master plan.
The NPA Boss further disclosed that "there is no monetary arrangement and contract with the Ghanaians, but stated that an amount maybe of up to US$100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) is allocated for training under the master plan. We have a Port master plan for twenty-five years which calls for the training of Liberians."
Recently, the Head of the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission, Madam Francis Johnson-Allison accused some government officials of establishing companies and awarding them government contracts outside the PPCC guidelines.
Speaking at the launch of the Open Budget Electronic Billboard in Monrovia, Cllr. Allison warned that the implementation of the government's budget must be done with high level of openness and transparency. She furthered that the awarding of government contract has to be open and transparent if the country is to succeed in fight against corruption.
The NPA currently plays a landlord role in the administration of the Freeport of Monrovia; while cargo handling and marine services are contracted to APM Terminals.
Why hired consultants when the Port has Managing Directors, for administration, legal affairs, operation and a captain of the port. Moreover, the port of Monrovia, for the first time since its establishment, does not have a Port Manager.
As it stands, APM Terminals have taken over marine services of the port of Monrovia, why hire a consultant for such service when the NPA has a captain? The NPA recently completed the US$21M dredging contract for the ports of Monrovia and Greenville.
Since the completion of the contract, the management has failed to give copy of such contract to the public amidst written request.
The hiring of the four Ghanaian consultants suggests that Liberia clearly lacks the trained manpower to carry out such function. Moreover, the refusal of the NPA to conduct competitive bidding process or request single sourcing from the PPCC remains everyone wonder.
Meanwhile, the Management of the Informer newspaper has said that it has not received any communication from the NPA up to press time. The paper said it is not deterred by Madam Parker's statement, but will rather continue to publish the fact surrounding the hiring and lodging of the consultants in the home of the Parker's family.