Liberia: Custom Brokers Express Disappointment in APM Terminals Over Delay in Clearing Containers

Monrovia — The National Customs Brokers Association of Liberia (NCBAL) has given the government of Liberia and APM Terminals three days to address the delay in clearing containers from the Free Port of Monrovia.

According to some members of the NCBAL, the situation is creating serious embarrassment for them and their customers, especially during the season period.

James Hinneh, president of the association, said the Government of Liberia needs to take some serious action against APM Terminals for the delay in releasing goods to customers.

"We are not having authorities in government to stand up to these private businesses and push the Liberian people's interest, APM Terminals has an agreement with the Liberian government to deliver and produce an effective port," Hinneh said.

He said one of the reasons APM Terminals finds it difficult to release goods on time is because of insufficient equipment to do their work effectively.

Hinned said APM Terminals has one equipment to load, offload containers and trucks, something he said is a factor of the high cost of goods and services on the Liberian market.

"The main reason why we are facing the problem we face in the port is that we don't have a managing director here currently because Bill never listens to the call or concerns of the Liberian people," Hinneh said.

The NCBAL president alleged that NPA management is in the know of what is happening as it relates to the clearing of containers but has not addressed the issue with APM Terminals.

Hinneh: "We will be constrained to take action that will be unfavorable for the business climate if things don't change."

"The only reason why the Brokers Association has not taken action and we have done that before; we can lockdown this port and there will be no activities in this port. The first reason is that we are Liberians and the second reason is that this is a peace season we don't want to disrupt business process and we're sending this as a warning to the authority."

The Liberia Brokers Association president is recommending to the Government and APM Terminals to take responsibility for the cost of business when APM Terminals fails to release their containers.

"We are giving the stakeholders and those who will be fortunate to listen to this interview today, tomorrow and Wednesday, if we don't have the resolution we expect we will take action," Hinneh said.

Speaking to FrontPageAfrica at the Freeport of Monrovia many of the Brokers said the system put in place by APM Terminals and the Port Management is affecting their businesses and even the high cost of goods on the Liberian market is because their goods are not coming out of the ports on time.

They explained that after paying the clearing fees and going through all the documentation to get their customer's goods cleared, it takes time to get the goods out of the port and they are charged extra fees for the days the goods spend in the port, even though they are not responsible for the delay.

Teah Manneh, a Broker said he feels very bad about the delay which has caused serious problems between the shipping lines and customers.

He claims that the one stop shop at the Free Port of Monrovia is not working because one person is doing over five persons' jobs.

"The Liberian people need to rise against these people, they are suffering the Liberian people. When we want to protest, they say we are against trade," Manneh said.

"We want the government to revisit the APM Terminals contract because they are not serving us well," Amos Toe added.

"When you take your truck in there, they will delay you and you have to pay for the storage.

"We are females, if we are not working they will say this and that but APM Terminals is giving us tough time so the government needs to intervene," Mamiah Johnson a Broker explained.

A businesswoman Alice Jerry said not getting goods out of the port during the festive season is frustrating.

"Government needs to put things in place to work with APM Terminals to resolve this issue because I feel they are really cheating the business people," Madam Alice Jerry said.

In response to the claims by the Brokers and business persons, APM Terminals Head of Commercial, Thomas Moore, said they are in the know of the challenges customers are going through.

He blamed the delay on the festive season because there are more ships coming into the country, but said they are working on resolving the issues.

"With regards to equipment, I want to assure the public, our customers that we do have containers equipment, we don't have shortage of equipment.

"The fact remains that we have a lot of vessels coming and the demand is high and there is no space in the yard," Moore said.

The APM Terminals official said to address the issue, they have started a 24-hour service at the Port but said other stakeholders like the bank, LRA and the Ports need to work the same 24 hours.

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