Monrovia – Just hours before the Liberia Maritime Authority moves to its new headquarters in Congotown, lawyers representing the landlords of its current offices on the Tubman Boulevard, is accusing the LMA of breaching the terms of the agreement by not informing them ahead of its departure from the building.
LMA Commissioner Lenn Eugene Nagbe confirmed to FrontPageAfrica Monday that the Lessors were indeed trying to breach the lease agreement.
On the Cusp of Completion
Said the Commissioner: “I can confirm that we have received several letters from the lawyer representing LiMA current landlord, basically saying that we should renew the lease for another five years. That’s a totally far-fetched proposition that we clearly are not going to even give consideration. The Liberia Maritime Authority has met all its legal/financial obligations under the lease and we are absolutely not indebted to the Landlord. On April 1, 2021 we will officially turn over the property to the owners through their lawyer.
Mr. Nagbe said the LiMA’s new headquarters, is now at cusp of completion.
“So, we are focusing our efforts and resources to ensure it is ready so that President Weah can dedicate by the end of April based on his availability and then we can start full operations there. It will be a total waste of public resources for me to sign a renewal of the lease for even one day let alone 5 more years when such could used to complete the New HQ. So beginning April 1, 2021, some staff will begin working at the New HQ in Congo Town while others will work from our Sub Offices at the FreePort of Monrovia and other out stations. Maritime has been paying rent since 1948, its about time we stop. We have no fuss with the owners, the lease is over. Goodbye to them.”
Lessors Notified, LiMA Says
The LMA on two occasions, April 1, 2020 and January 28, 2021 informed the Lessors, Mrs. Evangeline C. Railey Norman and Maria Massaquoi that it would not be renewing the lease agreement for another five years as it is on the verge of moving to its newly constructed headquarters.
In one of those communication, dated, April 1, 2020 the LMA wrote:
Dear Mrs. Railey-Norman,
We present warm compliments and write to have you informed in consonance with the terms of our April 1, 2016 Lease Agreement, that the Liberia Maritime Authority has embarked on the construction of its corporate headquarters and will be relocating at the expiration of the current lease. Consequently, the Authority wishes to inform you that it does not intend to renew the lease on the demised property at the end of the current leasehold.
On March 24, 2021, Cllr. Joyce Reeves-Woods wrote the LMA claiming that her clients were not informed or given notice by the LMA.
Lessors Seeking One-Year Payment
Cllr. Reeves-Woods wrote:
I represent the legal interest of Mrs. Evangeline C. Railey-Norman, and Mrs. Maria Massaquoi Anderson who have forwarded a copy of the Lease agreement entered by and between your entity and Mrs. Evangeline Railey Norman for their three-storey building lying and situated on Tubman Boulevard, adjacent the John F. Kennedy Center, in the city of Monrovia .
I would like to inform you that up to the writing of this letter, neither I nor my clients have received any notice from your entity referencing the Notice that you will be vacating the building by the 31st of March AD 2021.
I would like to inform you again that the Agreement provides for an option period of the five years and since up to today’s date, I nor my client have not received any written notice. A perusal of Clause One of the Agreement of Lease states, that the lease expires on the 31st day of March 2021 with an optional period of five years with no more than 33 percent increase in the annual rent during the optional period.
I wish to inform you that since neither me nor my client have received any notice of your leaving the building, I therefore wish to inform you that we will be taking advantage of the Clause One especially as it relates to the optional period and ask that you kindly make payment for the first year rent in keeping with the agreement.
Responding to the Lessors lawyers, the LMA wrote:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated March 24, 2021, which was addressed to Hon. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Commissioner, Liberia Maritime Authority. On behalf of the authority, we wish to inform you that the authority has, in fact, written your client, Mrs. Evangelin3 C. Railey-Norman(Lessor), on two occasions(April 1, 2020 and January 28, 2021) informing her, inter alia, that the Authority did not intend to renew its lease for the building located on Tubman Boulevard, adjacent JFK Medical Center.
As you are aware, the term of the Authority’s lease Agreement with you client for the demised property expires on March 31, 2021 and as previously communicated to your client, we wish to once again inform your client through your good office that the Authority will not exercise its option to renew the lease agreement for the demised property to the lessors or their representatives.
Consequently, we invite you to attend an official turnover of the demised property on Thursday, April 1, 2021 at the precise hour of 12:00 noon at which time we will conduct an inspection of the property and surrender possession of same to you in your capacity as Legal Representative of the Lessor.
The authority also wishes to seize this opportunity to express to the Lessors through you, their legal representative, its gratitude for the cordiality and cooperation it received during the tenure of the lease.