Liberia: Government & Shipping Lines in Tete-a-Tete to Bring Down Shipping Costs

Monrovia — Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Mr. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. and Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Mr. Bill Twehway, held a fruitful working breakfast at the French embassy on Saturday May 11 with representatives of five shipping lines: Maersk Liberia Limited, CMA-CGM, Bollere Logistics, MSC Shipping and Atlantic Maritime.

The five shipping lines account for 60 percent of the containerized shipping at the Freeport of Monrovia.

The meeting centered on building a consensus toward bringing down the high costs of containerized import in Liberia.

Relative to West African countries, the cost to import a container in Liberia is very high. President George Manneh Weah mandated the Technical Economic Management Team to work with all relevant stakeholders to bring down prices on goods and services on the Liberian market.

The working breakfast follows President George Manneh Weah's recent mandate to the National Port Authority to abolish demurrage charges in consultation with shipping lines. Among other things, the meeting discussed the recent abolition of demurrage charges at the port with a view to framing consensus around the issue. For their part, the five shipping lines agree that the costs are high and are due to a range of factors which can be resolved to make the Freeport competitive.

They noted that for example, a ship spends 9 hours in the port of Guinea, while it stays 3 to 4 days to clear a ship in Liberia. The shipping lines expressed their commitment to partner with the Government of Liberia to reduce import costs, which affects prices on the market. Both sides agree to develop a cost reduction roadmap that aims to reduce both financial and transaction costs in the port area, with the aim of making the Freeport of Monrovia competitive with other ports in the West African region.

The shipping lines express their commitment to the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, promising to work closely with the Government of President Weah to sustain effectiveness and efficiency at the port of Monrovia.

The French Ambassador to Liberia, Terence Wills, thanked both sides for the frank exchange and the energy to work together to improve the business environment in Liberia. Ambassador Wills expressed the need for all to send out positive messages in support of the Liberian economy. He pledged the commitment of the Government of France toward the development of Liberia. In a related development, NPA's three-person port assessment Mission to six West African countries of Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Togo, Ghana and La Côte d'Ivoire has returned to Liberia.

The Mission was sent to compare shipment costs across the region. The findings of the NPA Mission will inform the cost reduction roadmap being developed by the Government and stakeholders. The gathering helped themselves to delicious servings from a French breakfast menu while discussing a range of business and socio-economic issues.

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