Liberia: National Custom Brokers Association Decries 9.67 Percent Increment on All Cargo Services amid COVID-19 Economic Challenges
Monrovia – The President of the National Custom Brokers Association of Liberia James Hinneh has termed as untimely the announced planned increment in tariff as by APM Terminals.
Mr. Hinneh told FrontPageAfrica that the decision to increase tariff when the country’s economy is struggling amid COVID-19 is not appropriate as he called on the relevant authorities to intervene in the matter.
Hinneh further stated that it was due to the same COVID-19 impact on the country’s economy, among other things, that led to the Executive Order 103 by President George Weah which was part of the stimulus package to the country’s economy. As such, he said it is also necessary and prudent for APM Terminals to see the need to relax on its plan on the agreed annual increment.
He, however, 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 is responsible for its continuous ineffectiveness and inefficiencies,” he alarmed.
Addressing a news conference on Monday, January 4, 2021 the Custom Brokers Association boss said APM Terminals does not have adequate equipment to provide efficient port services to deserve effecting increment in tariff.
He said there is a serious crisis within the sector which poses extreme barriers to trade.
Mr. Hinneh told reporters that one of the reasons for the mortgaging of the Port to the APM Terminals was to ensure effectiveness and efficiency but he observed 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.
Hinneh emphasized that it is high time for the APM Terminals effectively fulfills its part of the bargaining in the supreme interest of both parties.
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 planned increment be effectuated as of February 1,2021.
He said there is a zero percent waiver on the importation of rice, however, 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 US$6.00 but due to annual increment it is now US$12.90 and if the 2021 increment is enforced it would extend to US$ 14.00. This, he noted is worrisome, especially for the nation’s staple food and the economy at large.
He named the alleged slow pace and delay in the offloading of containers, high tariff, inadequate equipment and the lack of gantry crane, among others as serious challenges facing the sector which they want it to be addressed urgently.
“Gantry crane is imperative and should be addressed in a timely manner”, James re-echoed. Gantry crane is a portable lifting hoist crane. It can be used indoors and outdoors, such as the warehouse, workshop, garage, construction site, manufacturing and assembly factories, and many other places.
He indicated that the APM Terminals does not have a gantry crane, but rather relies on the ship equipment to upload – something that causes delay in its operations and needs to be worked on, he said.