The Management of the National Port Authority (NPA) has rejected attempts by APM Terminals-Liberia to increase tariff.
NPA Managing Director Bill Twehway said his administration will not allow APM Terminals to increase tariff in the wake of the current economic difficulties the country facing.
Dr. Twehway said NPA will prevail on APM Terminals to ensure that not a dime will be added on the tariff.
He said since this government came to power, NPA management has prevailed on APM Terminals not to increase the tariff and has always succeeded in doing so, adding that there has been no increment in tariff since this government took over.
Twehway said the planned increment in tariff by APM Terminals is a proposal which his administration will not accept considering the devastating effects of the coronavirus in Liberia.
According to him, in the past, APM Terminals made similar proposal but NPA Management rejected and will continue to do so.
According to the agreement, APM Terminals should annually increase its tariff but Twehway said such decision at this crucial time when the country's economy is struggling to survive especially in the midst of the COVID-19 recovery drive.
Also, the National Custom Brokers Association of Liberia has spoken against plan by APM Terminals to increase tariff.
The president of Custom Broker James Hinneh stated that it was due to the same COVID-19 impact on the country's economy that prompted Executive Order 103 by President George Weah which was part of the stimulus package to the country's economy; as such, it was also necessary and prudent for the company to see the need to relax on its planned annual increment.
He argued that increment in tariff by the APM Terminal annually should be done in line with improvements in service delivery to the people; something he alleged is not the case.
"The lack of proper and adequate monitoring and supervision of the operations of the APM Terminals by relevant authorities of Government are responsible for its alleged continuous ineffectiveness and inefficiencies," he alarmed. He alleged that the company is short of necessary equipment to effectively function properly.
According to him, APM Terminals initially had nine restanker machines but now has seven and only five are currently functional, something he added is a serious challenge for the business community.
He said there is a serious crisis within the sector which poses extreme barriers to trade.
James told reporters that one of the reasons for mortgaging the Freeport to APM Terminals was to ensure effectiveness and efficiency but he observed currently that there is more burden on the people than expected.
"All we want is for you to give us an effective port and not to profiteer at the expense and detriment of the already struggling business people," he added.
Moreover, he emphasized that it is now time for the APM Terminals to effectively fulfill its part of the bargaining in the supreme interest of both parties.
Already, he pointed out that there is a 9.67% increment on a 20ft container which is the very minimum and wondered what it would be should the plan increment is effectuated.
According to him, there is a zero percent waiver on the importation of rice but said rice price is still high due to some of the high tariff allegedly imposed by APM Terminals.
Unlike before the tariff per ton for rice was six United States Dollars but due to annual increment it is now 12.90 cent and if the 2021 increment is enforced, it would extend to US$14.00; this, he noted, is completely worrisome especially for the nation's staple food.