Liberia is the second largest shipping registry in the world, renowned for its first class service delivery in the maritime industry but the country still lags behind in ensuring that Liberians are competitive in the maritime labor market as seafarers especially on vessels flying the country’s flag. The Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) Lenn Eugene Nagbe says his time at the Authority would mark a defining moment in ensuring that Liberians’ capacity is built to give them a competitive edge in the maritime labor market giving the country’s position in the industry globally.
Speaking on the weekend of March 5, 2021 at the official reopening of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) in Marshall, Commissioner Nagbe said the Liberian Shipping Registry has been growing from strength to strength since its establishment in 1948 with great partnerships that has been pivotal in making the country’s registry the best and second largest in the global maritime industry.
Commissioner Nagbe indicated that despite the country’s strong position in the world maritime sphere, Liberians are yet to be given the opportunity to work on vessels around the world especially vessels that fly the Liberian flag primarily because Liberia, as a country, and the Liberia Maritime Authority have not developed the capacity of young people: we have not given them the training; we have not prepared them for service.
“This is why my administration, working with our partners and agents at Liscr, we have decided that in spite of the devastation of Covid-19, we could apply the right protocols in order to be able to reopen the LMTI so that we can give opportunities to this cohort of cadets, who once trained, certificated and accredited, would have the opportunity to earn a living by being in the maritime sector,” he stressed.
“The best way to deal with unemployment is to give capacity to our young people. That’s what the President [George Weah] has asked us to do,” he pointed out.
“Before, when there’s a ship at a port of Buchanan that encounters any problem like a propeller issue, they will have to send for someone in Amsterdam to come and untangle, but today, a group of Liberians have been trained and certificated by LMA to perform said function,” Commissioner Nagbe said.
The Liberia Maritime Authority Chief Executive Officer applauded the United States Government for the cooperation Liberia continues to enjoy strong and historic relationship.
He disclosed that Liberia has been removed from the list of countries not taking effective anti-terrorism measures by the United States Coast Guard. “This is just a beginning. My administration, working with our agent will have to do more and have decided to conduct an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Audit,” Commissioner Nagbe intimated.
According to him, the delisting of Liberia from the US States Coast Guard’s list of countries not having effective anti-terrorism measures would come handy in the cost of shipping that will directly affect the economy greatly. He said this is so because a Liberian shipping a vehicle from the United States to Liberia would pay three times than the cost of shipping that same vehicle from the same port to the Port Conakry, Guinea due to high insurance premium giving the country’s status then as high risk terrorism hotspot. “If we do not meet these international benchmarks, our commerce will continue to suffer because these variables have direct impact on the lives and livelihood of the people because it would cost us to pay higher prices for goods that come into our ports,” Commissioner Nagbe emphasized.
The United States Advisory Notice 2-20 says “on May 2, 2005 the Coast Guard published a Notice in the Federal Register, (70 FR 22668), announcing that it had determined that effective anti-terrorism measures were not in place in the ports of the Republic of Liberia. Accordingly, conditions of entry were imposed on vessels that visited the Republic of Liberia in their last five port calls. Based on recent assessments conducted in 2018, the Coast Guard has determined that the Republic of Liberia is maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures, and is accordingly removing the conditions of entry announced in the previously published Notice.
He noted that efforts are also being made with the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority to stamp out illegal fishing in Liberia’s waters adding that steps are also being taken to get Liberia off the European Union’s Yellow List when all the outstanding policy issues are addressed.
Also in remarks at the LMTI reopening ceremony, President George M. Weah said “cadets, you are our torchbearers and we will do our best to pave the way for you to succeed in your marine career path in our country. We will do our best to ensure that you put us on the map of global maritime professionals. Let me admonish you not to take anything for granted. In that way, you will not only make Liberia proud when you go out, you will also be contributing immensely to the rebuilding of your country.
“The continuous operation of this institute is essential in the building of our country as a maritime nation. To date, it remains the first place of exposure for Liberians interested in maritime studies,” President Weah said.
“Amid the closure of the institution because of the coronavirus, we still have all of the equipment set and ready for use. This is good for us. We have state-of-the-art equipment of the 21st century and it’s important for you as students to take advantage of it, especially the technology here,” the Liberian leader maintained.
According to President Weah, the 24 cadets who graduated in 2019 are doing very well at their various places of work after receiving gainful employment.
President Weah urged the 24 cadets to appreciate the opportunity provided them in studying and coming out with the best results on time. The students are expected to graduate in less than a year, according to President Weah.
Abraham Avi Zaidenberg, Chairman of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI), for his part, intoned that the school during the early stage of the Covid-19 outbreak when movements were restricted and students were allowed to go home to be with their families.
Ever since the last visit of President George Manneh Weah in 2019 to witness the graduation of the first batch of 24 cadets, Mr. Zaidenberg said the graduates have taken up jobs in maritime sector with some being employed at d’Amico in Morocco; others are employed by Dutch concessionaire, APM Terminals while the rest have gone to the continue their studies at the Regional Maritime University (RMU) in Ghana.
He disclosed that LMTI has introduced short term courses for seafarers in the local maritime industry to build their capacities. The LISCR Boss lauded President Weah for the support and promised to continue to work hard in order to bring out the best in the cadets.