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NPA - Liberia’s Gateway Tittering On The Brink Of Disaster

NPA - Liberia’s Gateway Tittering On The Brink Of Disaster

PRESIDENT GEORGE MANNEH WEAH has not appointed an Executive Officers/Managing Director or constituted the Board of Directors of the National Port Authority (NPA) but the Deputy Managing Director designate, Mrs. Cecelia Cuffy Brown has assumed and is she’s exercising unauthorized powers indiscriminately thereby threatening to destabilize the National Port Authority and set it back years of recent gains and improvements.

CHAPTER VI, SECTION 56, sub-section 3 of the Act Repealing and adopting Chapter Six of the Public Authorities Law reads "The Executive Officer/Managing Director shall conduct the ordinary business of the NPA.

SUBJECT TO APPROVAL of the Board with regards to senior officers and staff, the Executive Officer /Managing Director shall be responsible for the organization, appointment and dismissal of the officers and staff". This means, only the Managing Director, with the approval of the Board of Directors have the power and authority to appoint, hire and dismiss and not any deputy.

HOWEVER, AT A TIME when critical issues with deadlines and timelines require serious focused attention, the Deputy Managing Director designate, Mrs. Celia Cuffy Brown, has chosen to hastily exercise the power of the Managing Director by already taking the following unauthorized actions: The National Port Authority runs on the government fiscal period from July 1 through June 30th, meaning the current NPA budget was crafted last year and ends on June 30th. Therefore all unauthorized actions of expanded employment and promotions are not accommodated for in the existing budget.

DESPITE THAT REALITY, according to a highly placed internal source, because of the Deputy Managing Director for Administration designate quest to bring a lot of people to the port, she raised the salary of the Human Resources Manager Marcus Cooper from US$1,067 to US$4,500 and given him the title of Executive Director of Human Resources, a position that does not exist in the NPA and has not been budgeted for. Mrs. Brown has also promoted the income manager and the budget manager to directors of their various sections and increased their salaries by more than 100%. Promoted the Expenditure Managers to Deputy Comptroller and increased his salary as well.

THE DEPUTY MANAGING DIRECTOR for Administration designate has employed her sister, Rebecca Teta Cuffy as Claims Manager even though she has never worked in that department and increased her salary from US$300 to US$1,067.

THE DE FACTO MANAGING DIRECTOR has given contracts to over 200 casual workers within the port and brought in an addition of 15 individuals and added them to the casual listing and given all of them contracts. 

IN CONTINUATION OF HER PLAN to destroy the NPA, our highly placed inside source said, besides the head of security appointed by the President, she has remove almost all the heads of the Liberia sea port police and replaced them with newcomers.

MRS. CUFFY-BROWN HAS singlehandedly hired a new Comptroller for the NPA by the name of Franklin W. Sarkoh and an Internal Audit Department manager all though the department currently has a manager and other qualified auditors.

SARKOH PREVIOUSLY worked at the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company in the Human Resources Department and before that for a small school in Logan Town called St. Matthews as Business Manager. Sarkoh is a graduate of the Cuttington Graduate School and but has no professional accounting or finance certification and no evidence of such experience.

QUITE INTERESTINGLY TOO, Mrs. Cuffy-Brown has engaged in forcibly "anointing" almost all offices across the port without the permission of the occupants on grounds that she sees skeletons and human flesh in all these offices.

CONSIDERING ALL THESE unauthorized action that has increased the payroll by nearly 50% without due regard for the revenue shortfall the port is currently experiencing. If Mrs. Cuffy-Brown is not stopped immediately and all the unauthorized decisions reversed, the NPA will soon be bankrupt and insolvent like NOCAL and virtually unable to meet payroll.

THE POSITION OF THE DEPUTY Managing Director for Administration is next to the Managing Director and a key assistant who is the engine that drives the port management. Judging from the copy of turnover note obtained from the transition team, there are critical issues the Administrator designate must be familiarizing herself with and trying to understand quickly according the turnover notes obtained from a disgruntled member of the transition team, including the following:

THE APM TERMINAL JUST increased tariff by 7.032% after tariffs at the Freeport of Monrovia was frozen and stopped from being increased by the David Williams management team for the last two years. This is a highly consequential decision by the APM Terminals that could have potential negative economic effect.

THE US COAST GUARD annual visit is  scheduled for March and is critical to the maintenance of the ISPS Security Level I designation for the Freeport of  Monrovia and the Port of Buchanan. An unsatisfactory report by the visiting US Coast Guard team will render the port unsafe and insecure thereby requiring higher level of insurance in order for vessels to call at Liberia's ports.

THIS WILL LEAD TO VESSELS preferring to call at neighboring ports which would be much cheaper. The visit is scheduled at a time when all the knowledgeable security heads who have been the forerunner for the annual inspections have been changed.

ONE INSIDE SOURCE INFORMED us also that there is a US$13 Million plus Kuwaiti Loan for the rehabilitation of the port of Greenville that must be managed by the Deputy Managing Director for Administration before it falls into default and the current Deputy Managing Director for Administration designate has no clue about the workings of the loan.  We are also told that further actions should be underway to turn the boats that are currently into Greenville into a profitable venture elsewhere but no efforts have been made thus far by the new team.

THERE IS ALSO THE ISSUE of over-stayed-abandoned containers that are subjected to executive order since it involves the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) (Custom Duties), which is revenue to government. This issue must be understood and addressed in consultation with LRA in order to grant necessary relief to mostly Liberians who are often involved with abandoned containers.

THERE IS ALSO the issue of dry-port that must be driven to logical conclusion in order that it may provide a staging area for goods heading to the hinterland and southern Guinea that must be understood and addressed in tandem with the Ministry of Public Works

MORE IMPORTANTLY TOO, the concept of an integrated port systems linking port and rail started by the last management team, reading from the turnover note, must be understood and pursued in support of the pro-poor agenda as the construction of rail linking Buchanan to Greenville and then to Harper and expanding the ports facilities will spur economic growth and provide employment for inhabitants in these counties thereby improving their standards of living.

THESE ARE BUT A FEW OF the issues that Mrs. Cuffy-Brown has no clue about and should be busy studying and trying to understand instead of trying to act as de facto Managing Director by exercising power she does not have.

WE CHALLENGED MRS. CUFFY-BROWN to show the media the source of her power or an alternate authorizing instrument permitting her to pretend to be the Managing Director and therefore exercising such immense power by expanding the work force and increasing the payroll with no corresponding budgetary allocation to support same; or even to demonstrate knowledge about these matters she has so far not concerned herself with. She is busy trying to render the port insolvent and unstable through her unauthorized actions.

WE CALL ON PRESIDENT GEORGE WEAH to move with immediate haste to reverse all the unauthorized actions by Mrs. Cuffy-Brown and put in check the destabilizing effect of her unauthorized indiscriminate actions before the gateway to the nation's economy incurs further irreparable damages. 

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