Meningococcal Disease Kills 4 in North-western Liberia

A Joint Situational Report issued on Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) says that a total of nine cases of Meningococcal Disease has been reported in the northwest of the West African country of Liberia.

Map of Guinea-Liberia-Sierra Leone in West Africa
Map of Guinea-Liberia-Sierra Leone in West Africa

The report say there have been 4 deaths as of January 23, 2018 but no new cases have been reported since January 24th. The report says Neisseria Meningitides sero-group W had been found in samples in two of three cases in Foya District, Lofa County Liberia.

According to the report, “…Fourteen new contacts were identified on January 23, 2018. In total, 239 contacts have been identified and listed and are under follow-up. 213, which is about 89% of the contacts have received chemoprophylaxis (ciprofloxacin 500mg, single dose)…”

This an antibiotic which is administered to treat the disease.

The report further disclosed that a total of 5 case patients have been admitted for treatment and 2 have been treated and discharged while 3 others are still undergoing medical treatment.

28 health care workers have undergone refresher training in case management of the Meningococcol infection in the area and community members in Foya have been given orientation on the simple identification of the disease while community surveillance has been increased.

The U.S based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, the bacteria called Neisseria Meningitidis cause meningococcal disease. About 1 in 10 people have these bacteria in the back of their nose and throat with no signs or symptoms of disease; this is called being ‘a carrier’. But sometimes the bacteria invade the body and cause certain illnesses, which are known as meningococcal disease, the CDC says.

Spread of the Disease: 

The CDC notes that in the spread of the meningococcal disease …”People spread meningococcal bacteria to other people by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact to spread these bacteria. Fortunately, they are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or the flu.

People do not catch them through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been. Sometimes the bacteria spread to people who have had close or lengthy contact with a patient with meningococcal disease. Those at increased risk of getting sick include:

  1. People who live with the patient

2. Anyone with direct contact with the patient’s oral secretions, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend

According to the report, Ebola (RT-PCR), Lassa Fever (RT-PCR), yellow fever (serology-IgM) and typhoid (WIDAL) have been ruled out in specimens collected from some of the human cases.

CDC -Ebola workers
Ebola Workers

An Ebola outbreak in the West African sub-region in 2014-2015 killed over 11,300 in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and there are about 10,000 Ebola survivors in the region, according to WHO data.

The  Ebola outbreak laid bare the glaring inadequacy of health facilities and personnel in the three countries.

Medical observers say no major programs have been implemented to address the woeful lack of national health programs in the three countries and there are fears that another pandemic outbreak will devastate the poverty stricken populations.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

George Weah Inaugurated As President Of Liberia

Monrovia, 22 January – Liberians experienced another historic moment Monday when it became the first African country to induct a former soccer legend, George Weah, as the 25th president of Liberia, perfecting the first democratic transition  in the country  since President William VS Tubman was inducted 3rd  January 1944.

President George Weah andVice President Jewel Taylor
President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Taylor

Mrs. Jewel Howard Taylor, former wife of Liberia’s ex-president Charles Taylor, was inducted as vice president alongside President Weah.  Both personalities received over 60% of the votes cast during the presidential run-off held here on Boxing Day 2017. They defeated outgoing Vice President Joseph Boakai of the former ruling Unity Party.

Guinean president Alpha Conde and Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe, current chairmen of the African Union and Ecowas, respectively graced the occasion. Ecowas was fully represented at the head of state and prime minister levels.

Several former international football colleagues including  Samuel Et’oo, Jay Jay Okocha and Didier Drogba also graced the historic induction of one of their kind as president.

Senator George Weah of CDC
Senator George Weah of CDC

President Weah was unequivocal in promising to  protect political plurality  as well as press freedom  and free speech. He promised to fully implement the Liberianization policy and urged Liberians to work hard in order to take charge of their economy, while cracking down on corruption in government will be on the front burner.

He promised salary increment for civil servants as an incentive to discourage graft. But as public expectation is very high amongst impoverished Liberians, Weah called on all citizens to join hands with him in order to improve their lives saying he and the government cannot do it all.

INAUGURAL SPEECH OF PRESIDENT GEORGE WEAH

Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen

My fellow citizens, I am humbled and thankful for the trust and hope you have put in me. I am filled with joy and pride to see so many friends from across the world join us in celebrating what is truly an historic moment for our country. To all our citizens and international guests, we thank you for coming.

I have spent many years of my life in stadiums, but today is a feeling like no other. I am overwhelmed with the crowd and the energy here today, and I guarantee you, when we finish, there will not be a winning or a losing side. Today, we all wear the jersey of Liberia, and the victory belongs to the people, to peace, and to democracy.

The tens of thousands of Liberians here today, and many more in our communities across the country who are listening gathered together around radios in the palava hut, it is to you we are responsible to deliver the change you deserve. Indeed, we must deliver the change that our people need, in order to transform their lives for the better.

I promise to do everything in my power to be the agent of positive change. But I cannot do it alone. First, I call upon the revered institution that host us today and from which the Vice President and I come– The Legislative – our co-equal branch of government, to work with me to create and pass essential laws that are needed to complete the foundation of this nation.

Together, we owe our citizens clarity on fundamental issues such as the land beneath their feet, freedom of speech, and how national resources and responsibilities are going to shift from this capital to the counties. The people expect better cooperation and more action from their government. We can do better, together.

Today, we Liberians have reached an important milestone in the never-ending journey for freedom, justice, and democracy; a search that has remained central to our history as a nation.

Many of those who founded this country left the pain and shame of slavery to establish a society where all would be free and equal. But that vision of freedom, equality, and democracy has not yet been fully realized.

That human longing for true and lasting freedom has revealed itself in many ways since Liberia’s founding. Sometimes the drive has been divisive and confrontational; and too often violent, bloody, and deadly, as it was in the 14 years of civil conflict, when the absence of equality and unity led us down the path of destroying our own country.

Notwithstanding the harshness and immeasurable cost of the lesson, we have learned that equality and freedom are never just a final destination that a people or a nation reaches. These are fundamental human rights that our people deserve and that must be held up and measured against our actions, our policies, our laws, and our purpose as those elected to serve the people.

Almost 15 years ago, Liberians laid down their arms and renewed their hope for a better and more equal society. With the help of regional partners and the United Nations, we chose democracy as our path, and elected the first post-war Government, which was led by Her Excellency, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Your Excellency, I thank you for laying the foundation upon which we can now stand, in peace and to advance progress for our country.

But this Inaugural Ceremony signals more than a peaceful transition from one democratic administration to another. It is also a transition from one generation of Liberian leadership to a new generation. It is indeed a confirmation that democracy exists in Liberia, and that, it is here to stay!
We have arrived at this transition neither by violence, nor by force of arms. Not a single life was lost in the process. Blood should never be the price tag for democracy. Rather, this transition was achieved by the free and democratic will of the Liberian people, guaranteed by the rule of law.
This Inaugural gathering also celebrates an important precedent: that we Liberians can, and will, rely on established institutions and the rule of law to resolve our political disagreements. This demonstrates the maturity of our institutions and that we as a people have learned valuable lessons from our brutal history.

My fellow Liberians, let not the splendor of these ceremonies, nor the celebration of electoral victory, make us forget how we arrived at this moment. We have arrived here on the blood, sweat, tears, and suffering of so many of our citizens, too many of whom died, longing for real freedom and equality.

Today, we must remember the hundreds of thousands who died, and many more whose lives were up ended and families displaced, because we lost sight of the fact that we can only reach a higher state of equality and freedom by treating each other with love and respect – not tearing each other down. Truly taking this lesson to heart will bring the dawn of a new Liberia.

So that their deaths would not be in vain, I solemnly pledge today, with the help of all of you, my fellow citizens, to build a Liberia of equality, freedom, dignity, and respect for one another.

Let us all stand for a moment of silence to remember those who died on our soil, in our conflict, and by our own hands. Let it never be so again.
THANK YOU. PLEASE BE SEATED.
MY FELLOW CITIZENS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

On this day of inauguration, as we begin to build upon the foundation of this New Liberia, I, George forky klon jlaleh gbah ku gbeh Tarpeh Manneh Weah, your new President, must first give thanks and praises to the Almighty God for the blessings he has bestowed on our country. And I say “my people, thank you, yaaaaaaaaa” for entrusting me with the responsibility of leading the effort to build this New and better Liberia.
It will be my task, my duty, and my honor, to lead this nation from division to National Unity, and toward a future of hope and prosperity. I have here taken an oath before you, and before the Almighty God, to uphold our constitution and to preside over this Government and this country to the best of my abilities.

REST ASSURED, I WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN!!
And so, My Fellow Citizens, I want to admonish you, that the foundation of the New Liberia must be reinforced by the steel of integrity. We need men and women, boys and girls, whose integrity provides the foundation of the trust that is required for Liberian society to benefit her people.

MY FELLOW CITIZENS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
During my tenure as President of Liberia, the loudest battle cry that must ring from the mountains of Wologisi to the peak of Yekepa; from the ranges of Putu to the hills of Bomi; and from the coast of Harper to the shores of Monrovia, must be the cry of National Unity!

We should all strive to put aside our differences and join hands in the task of nation building. We must learn how to celebrate our diversity without drawing lines of divisions in our new Liberia. We belong to Liberia first before we belong to our inherited tribes, or chosen counties.
We must not allow political loyalties prevent us from collaborating in the national interest. We must respect each other and act as neighbors, regardless of religious, social and economic differences.

In the words of our National Anthem:
“In union strong, success is sure. We cannot fail.”
United, we are certain to succeed as a Nation. Divided, we are certain to fail.

MY FELLOW CITIZENS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
It is my belief that the most effective way to directly impact the poor, and to narrow the gap between rich and poor, is to ensure that public resources do not end up in the pockets of Government officials.
I further believe that the overwhelming mandate I received from the Liberian people is a mandate to end corruption in public service. I promise to deliver on this mandate.

As officials of Government, It is time to put the interest of our people above our own selfish interests. It is time to be honest with our people. Though corruption is a habit amongst our people, we must end it. We must pay civil servants a living wage, so that corruption is not an excuse for taking what is not theirs. Those who do not refrain from enriching themselves at the expense of the people – the law will take its course. I say today that you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
To the private sector, I say to you that Liberia is open for business. We want to be known as a business-friendly government.

We will do all that is within our power to provide an environment that will be conducive for the conduct of honest and transparent business. We will remove unnecessary regulatory constraints that tend to impede the establishment and operation of business in a profitable and predictable manner.​

As we open our doors to all foreign direct investments, we will not permit Liberian-owned businesses to be marginalized. We cannot remain spectators in our own economy. My government will prioritize the interests of Liberian-owned businesses and offer programs to help them become more competitive and offer services that international investors seek as partners.

MY FELLOW CITIZENS:
This victory could not have been possible without the support of the youth of this country, the women of this country, especially those who make their living by selling in the markets. To all of you, I want to say a heartfelt thank you. This is your government!!!
In the famous words of President Abraham Lincoln of the United States of America “…government of the people; by the people, and for the people.”

We could not have arrived at this day without our voices been heard loudly, and all our views, no matter how critical, being freely expressed in an atmosphere void of intimidation and arrest.

This was only made possible by the tolerance of my predecessor, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who protected the right to Freedom of Speech as enshrined in our Constitution.

Now, in my turn, I will go further to encourage and reinforce not only freedom of speech, but also freedom of political assembly.

MY FELLOW CITIZENS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
To change the structure of the Liberian economy will require huge investments in agriculture, infrastructure, in human capital, and in technology. We hope our international development partners will assist us in this transformation. Meanwhile, on behalf of all Liberians, I would like to thank the international community for the invaluable contributions they have made to our peace and economic development.

I thank the ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES, (ECOWAS), for standing with Liberia throughout these years. Many of our West African brothers and sisters shed their blood for Liberians during our conflict. This is a debt Liberians will never be able to repay.

We count these fallen West African soldiers among the martyrs of our history. Without their supreme sacrifices, this day would not have been possible. ECOWAS will continue to play a very meaningful role during my presidency.

I also thank the UNITED NATIONS for the important role it has played in Liberia. We stood with the United Nations at its founding when it was just an idea driven by ideals. Then, in our darkest days, the UN stood by us.

UN peacekeeping missions have ensured unbroken peace within our borders for more than a decade, and will soon demonstrate their confidence in us, by transitioning its task from peacekeeping programs of UN organizations which will continue in key sectors such as education, health, and agriculture.

Ending a peacekeeping mission successfully is something in which all Liberians and her partners should take great pride. We thank all member countries of the United Nations for your support and I promise to continue to build on the success that we have achieved together.
To the Government and People of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, we thank you for your strong support over the years.

The Republic of Liberia has a strong historic relationship with the United State of America, which has manifested itself and that relationship will even be stronger under my administration.

To the EUROPEAN UNION, I say thanks to you for your strong partnership with Liberia. European aid has provided critical support for Liberia’s recovery from war, and this continuous support will be important as we forge a new path of transformation.

Without Europe George Manneh Weah would not be standing here delivering this inaugural address as the 24th President of the Republic of Liberia. It was my success in European football that enabled me to give back to my beloved country. Europe will always have a special place in my heart, and, as President, I intend to strengthen my relationship with the European community for the benefit of all Liberians.

To the PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, I say “XIEXIE”. Our administration will continue to support the “One-China Policy”. China has emerged as one of Liberia’s most dependable allies. It is my hope that Chinese-Liberian relationships will grow stronger during my tenure as President.

The Samuel Kanyan Doe Sports Complex, built by the Chinese, where this Inaugural Ceremony is being held, is where I gained my exposure to the football world. It does not only stand as a monument of Chinese friendship toward Liberians, but It also stands as a symbol of peace and reconciliation for the Liberian people.

During our civil conflict, this was a venue that brought opposing factions together during national matches, effectively reconciling them to a single national purpose, Liberia.

And once again today, we stand at this same venue united for one purpose: Liberia. This is time that we put away our political differences to work together in forging a New Liberia, where the affordability of all goods and services will not longer be a luxury to the privileged, but rather a right for all Liberians.

To the AFRICAN UNION, I also say thank you for standing with Liberia over the past several years. Liberia has always had an historic relationship with the AU. As a founding member of the African Union, I look forward to participating with my colleagues at forthcoming summits, where we intend to utilize the resources and expertise of the African Union for the benefit of our country.

To other bi-lateral and multi-lateral partners, I say a sincere thank you! The World Bank, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Norway, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, to name too few, have also played important roles in Liberia’s emergence from conflict and will remain critical for the transformation we seek.

MY FELLOW LIBERIANS:
My greatest contribution to this country as President may not lie in the eloquence of my speeches, but will definitely lie in the quality of the decisions that I will make over the next six years to advance the lives of poor Liberians.

I intend to construct the greatest machinery of pro-poor governance in the history of this country. I will do more than my fair share to meet your expectations. I ask you to meet mine, for I cannot do it alone.

Mine is an expectation that you, fellow citizens, will rise up and take control and responsibility for your destiny. That you will look away from the things that divide us, and draw strength and energy from the things that unite us. Mine is an expectation that you will push yourselves to achieve the possibilities that are within your reach. That you will aim to do more for yourselves and expect other to do less.

And mine is a further expectation that you will discover a new sense of fairness and integrity; a new love for country and for each other. A love that will turn public servants and government officials into national champions for change. A love that will bring back home Liberians scattered far and wide across the globe – many of them highly skilled, talented, and experienced – to join us in building a New Liberia.​
The sooner we all merge our energies toward cementing these new norms and values, the sooner we will transform our beloved country for the better. In doing so, we must also learn the virtue of patience, and learn to lower our expectations, for I do not promise you quick fixes or miracles.

Instead, my pledge to you today is that my administration, with your help, will make steady and deliberate progress towards achieving the hopes and aspirations that you cherish in your heart for Mama Liberia.
Let me close with these re-assuring words from our National Anthem:

“With God above, our rights to prove,
We will over all prevail!!
Long live Liberia, happy land!
A home of glorious liberty, by God’s command.”
May God Almighty bless the works of our hands, and save the State.
I THANK YOU.

By Tepitapia Sannah in Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

 

Opinion: Liberia Maritime Industry Is Liberia’s Engine For Growth & Employment

Few years ago, two very valuable Liberian maritime experts, Charles N. Wolo and Christian G. Herbert, both my personal friends and heroes, lost their lives.

Maritime Registry
Maritime Registry

They died working in professions that were not their calling and first choice. Charles died, having served as math teacher for more than fifteen years with a Texas School District, while Christian died working as an official at the Ministry of Public Works.

These two Liberians were among only 4,654 World Maritime University (WMU) graduates from 167 countries across the globe and thousands of others from its sister institution, International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) in Malta and smaller maritime institutions around the world, including the Regional Maritime University in Ghana.

They were trained for leadership at the highest level in the industry to shape the maritime sector of today and lead its development into the future.

In his two-year stay at the World Maritime University, Christian G. Herbert became one of its most important and impactful students, admired by his fellow graduates all over the world. He headed the student government and as such was part of the university’s governing board. His dissertation, “The Liberian Shipping Registry: Strategies To Improve Flag State Implementation And Increase Market Competitiveness” is perhaps, the most comprehensive narrative of the Liberian Registry and best compilation in defense of the concept of Open Registry.

Although significant resources were expended on the training of Christian, Charles and many like them, Liberia failed to put to work these highly trained and recommended maritime professionals; probably because the Liberian idea of maritime affairs remains locked in the outdated 1948 model advanced by Edward Stettinius to President Tubman: the registration and handling of ship matters by a private agent in exchange for compensation in tonnage and corporate taxes.

The maritime industry in Liberia has remained virtually stagnant and almost solely dependent on the annual receipts of its share of tonnage and corporate taxes. Liberia is the second largest maritime registry in the world with 204m dwt, closely followed by its clone, the Marshall Island Registry, with 196m dwt. There is no meaningful presence of Liberian nationals on any of the 2871 vessels above 10,000 dwt flying the Liberian flag.

Deadweight Tonnage Registry
Deadweight Tonnage Registry

The Liberian Maritime Authority has been headed by none maritime trained executives for years.  The Permanent Representative of Liberia to the IMO is a none maritime trained official in a sea of Permanent Representatives who are graduates of the World Maritime University (WMU) or the Internal Maritime Law Institute (IMLI). To develop the Liberian maritime sector and create jobs and more income for Liberia, the existing maritime institutions need not be headed by political appointments. Since the change of the Registry Agent from International Registry Incorporated (IRI) to Liberia International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR), growth in the registry has remained mostly stagnant when compared to its main competitor, the Marshall Island, which continues to experience double digit growth rate. Relying on the comparative growth trend between the two countries, it is easy to assume that the Marshall Islands will very soon surpass Liberia as the world second largest ship registry.

The story of Liberia’s decline as an open registry country finds its best expression in Liberia’s philosophy about its growth and prosperity. The core thinking behind Liberia’s outlook has been undue reliance on the assistance of outsiders. The Liberia Maritime Program is a product of that mindset. After World War II, most American companies seeking to invest in Liberia had, as their motive, the desire to aid and assist in the improvement of the health and education of the people of Liberia.

One of the most impactful of such companies was the Liberia Company, organized by Edward Stettinius, U.S. Secretary of State. In September 1947, one hundred years after Liberia’s independence, Stettinius Associates-Liberia Inc., signed a Statement of Understanding with the Republic of Liberia, according to which, the company was granted an eighty-year concession to exploit any line of business in Liberia except that which was already expressly granted to other concessionaires. Never had such an all-inclusive concession been granted to any company, probably anywhere. Mr. Stettinius emphasized that he was driven to advance the welfare of the people of Liberia and that with American techniques and know-how combined with Liberia’s natural resources, it was not necessary for Liberians to live poorly (McLaughlin, R.U., Foreign Investment in Liberia 1966, 56).

In retrospect, the vision for an all-inclusive development of Liberia through business investments under the custody of a Taipan like philanthropist, Edward Stettinius, did not materialize, probably because Stettinius died on October 31, 1949, barely two years after he set his sights on Liberia. To his credit, he created the Liberia Maritime Program, the International Trust Company and its subsidiaries, ITC Bank, IRI, Cocopa Rubber Plantation and the Roberts International Airport under PAN America after his brother-in-law, American aviation pioneer and founder of Pan American Airways, Juan Terry Trippe, took over the leadership of the Liberia Company.  Also, influenced by the vision of Stettinius was Robert G. LeTourneau of Texas, the famous manufacturer of earth-moving equipment who, in 1955, established his company R.G Letourneau of Liberia, Inc in Liberia.

R.G LeTorneau
R.G LeTorneau

In 1951, LeTourneau visited Liberia and decided that the best way to teach the gospel was by teaching basic American production skills to Liberians. An eight-year lease on up to 500,000 acres of land was granted to the company in 1952 for general agriculture, mining and timber operations. The agreement provided for the reinvestment of all the profits of the company during the first five years. In 1952, the first shipment of $500,000 in earth moving equipment, food for one year for the American staff, 500 New Testaments Bibles and twelve technical missionaries arrived at the company’s site in Baffu Bay, Sinoe County. In addition to the production of rice, fruits and palm oil, R.G. LeTourneau of Liberia Inc., was responsible for most of the road construction works in the southeastern parts of Liberia. The concept of foreign management of Liberia’s enterprise remained the hallmark of the management of Liberia’s maritime program and the modus operandi for how Liberia exploits her natural resources, even today.

Three sets of events can be attributed to the decline in the size of Liberia’s ship registry:  International Competition, political instability and international relations, Liberia’s Ship Owners resentment over their ill-treatment by former Maritime Commissioner Benoni Urey in 1998/99 and a combination of the insincerity of International Registries Inc. (IRI), strengthened by Liberia’s hands-off approach and the subsequent changing of the agency to LISCR.

The decline of Liberia’s ship registry started in 1979 because of competition in the industry; the rise of other open registries such a Malta, Cyprus and Singapore and the realignment of some closed registry countries by opening parallel registries with characteristics of open registry, to retain ships owned by their nationals. The political instability of Liberia which started after the rice riot of 1979 sent the first strong signal to the market. In 1983, the decline was further exacerbated by the Arab League boycott of Liberia flag ships in retaliation for Liberia’s renewal of diplomatic relations with Israel. Tankers flying the Liberian flag were prevented from doing business with oil producing Arab countries. So naturally, many tanker owners took their ships out of the Liberian ship registry. Liberia’s negative image and fear of the decline of the Liberia registry may have driven her agent, IRI, to create a new registry like Liberia in the Marshall Islands in 1990, in breach of her contract with Liberia. Gradually, the IRI started to populate the Marshall Island ship registry at the expense of Liberia, using resources that belonged to the Liberian Registry.

When Charles Taylor became President of Liberia in 1997, Liberia was indebted to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in unpaid dues amounting to just over U.S.$3 Million. The new Maritime Commissioner, Benoni Urey, asked the Liberian Ship Owners Council for a meeting to seek their assistance in paying Liberia’s bill to the IMO. In a meeting held in Sweden in 1999, the ship owners agreed to open a special fund for the sole purpose of paying Liberia’s IMO bill and supporting Liberia’s participation at international maritime events. The funds were to be administered by the agent, IRI. By mid-1999 the designated funds had accumulated to more than U.S. $27 Million, mainly from additional fees charged to the ship owners.

A dispute ensued between Commissioner Urey and the IRI over control of the funds. The Commissioner argued that as sovereign government, it was only proper that Liberian authorities handle the administration of the funds. After some consultation, it was agreed that control of the funds be turned over the Liberian maritime authorities. By the beginning of 2000, the allocated funds had been depleted but the IMO debt for which the funds were established remained unpaid. When the Ship Owners Council asked Commissioner Urey to account for the funds, he was dismissive of their inquiry. He is quoted to have told the ship owners, “How dare you question how a sovereign country makes it decisions?”

On February 17, 1998, the Government of Liberia filed a lawsuit against its maritime agent, the International Registries Inc.(IRI) and its affiliates at Fairfax County Court in Virginia. In the Bill of complaint, the Government of Liberia accused IRI of:

  1. Wrongful transfer of Liberian shipping registrants to the Marshall Islands registry with the view to operate and manage the same freely without Liberian oversight and retain a large percentage of the net revenue accrued therefrom;
  2.   Management and operation of competing shipping registries – Liberia and Marshall Islands – using Liberia’s assets, personnel and other resources;

iii.     Diversion of both Liberian-flag ships and new ships to the Marshall Islands registry;

  1. Wrongful utilization of Liberian registry offices at 11495 Commerce Park Drive, Reston, Virginia, personnel and equipment to operate the Marshall Islands registry;
  2. Illegitimate use of Liberia’s proprietary information in the form of registrants’ lists, methods of operation and administration, computer software and other confidential documents for the Marshall Islands registry;
  3. Joint marketing of the Liberian and Marshall Islands flags and the employment of forms, rules, regulations and licenses identical to those used by Liberia;

vii.    Construction of a large new facility in the Marshall Islands intended to be used as base of operation to complete the transfer of new ships and Liberian ships to the Marshall Islands registry;

viii.    Misappropriation and mismanagement of finances and trade secrets

(Source: RL vs. IRI et al, 1998.)

The Liberian Government asked the court to award damages upward of US$70 Million. In the middle of litigation, the Government of President Charles G. Taylor terminated the maritime extension contract signed between Liberia’s Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) headed by Dr. Amos Sawyer and the agent, IRI/ITC and on February 27, 1999, submitted a draft agreement to the Liberian Legislature to enter a maritime agency agreement with a new company, the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR), to manage the Liberian ship registry beginning January 1, 2000. The agreement was ratified by the Liberian Legislature on March 5, 1999. The creation of the new company, LISCR, was not done under the best of circumstances. IRI, the old agent who had been dealing with the ship-owners, classification societies and all the relevant maritime firms, the IMO and foreign governments, and was still in custody of all Liberia’s proprietary assets. Simply put, Liberia’s Bureau of Maritime Affairs did not have corroborated documentation of the number and class of ships registered under the Liberian flag during this critical period.

Secondly, the core executives of the new company were mostly persons who had been peeled off the old agency because of some disagreements with the principals. As part of its claims in a subsequent lawsuit filed by IRI against LISCR on January 7, 1999, they asserted that the Liberian Ship Registry was literally stolen from them. They identified among others, Mr. Lester Hyman, Chairman of LISCR at the signing of the new agency agreement who was also a part of the Swindler and Berlin Law Firm that represented Liberia in its lawsuit against IRI (Herbert, C. World Maritime University 1999). On May 4, 1999, Lloyd’s List reported that the Liberian Government’s lawsuit against IRI had been withdrawn from court and all claims and counterclaims were set aside. In exchange for the transfer of the vital operational and other assets and co-opting of some IRI employee into the new LISCR, a substantial payment was made to the IRI (Lloyd’s List. 4.05.99.1) and the path was cleared for LISCR to officially assume the role of agent, which it did on January 1, 2000.

The net effect of these events was that IRI, the Liberian agent for fifty-two years, became the sole agent of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Shipping Registry. Overnight, the Marshall Islands Shipping Registry expanded and has since continued to experience double digit growth. The dispute over Liberia’s ship-owners funds with Commissioner Benoni Urey did not incentivize owners to keep their ships under the Liberian flag and her new agent. Many owners transferred their flags to the Marshall Islands opting to remain under IRI. Overnight, the decline in Liberia ship registry reached a low point. The entire interplay surrounding the departure of IRI and entry of LISCR was a spoilers’ paradise for all but the new owners of LISCR. The IRI lost her treasured position secured fifty-two years earlier by the work of Edward Stettinius and Liberia lost more than half of her annual revenue from the ship and corporate registry.

Container Vessel
Container Vessel

Liberia’s total reliance on foreign prescriptions and management of her vital source of income has always provided temporary comfort for the country. Suffice to say, the maritime registry as a source of income for a non-ship owning country is rapidly becoming obsolete. In 1948, it was understandable and profitable for Liberian flag to be used by American ship owners as a tax haven following their dispute with the Panamanian government. The fact that Liberia was one of only two African countries and had a traditional relationship and common orientation with America made income from the Liberia ship registry just about free money.

Liberia, however, never evolved out of the same role she had been set into in 1948, notwithstanding the extremely lucrative industry in which her flag had become a prominent fixture. Liberia stagnation and slow decline in the maritime industry is a function of the neglect of succeeding Liberian Governments to exercise effective control over the operations of the company to which it had delegated authority to perform certain Flag State functions. Initially, the Maritime Bureau was under the Department of Commerce later to become the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Transportation. When the Ministry of Transport was enacted, the Bureau move to the new Ministry but under President Doe, an autonomous Bureau of Maritime Affairs was created and made accountable to the President. The focus of the Bureau and for the most part the new Liberia Maritime Authority has been a narrow path of domestic function including the most heralded beach cleaning.

Liberia’s idea of the ship registry has been almost jealously focused on the tonnage and corporate taxes as a portion of national revenue; not much more. When the Liberian government neglects to train and deploy capable Liberia professionals to the IMO and in the offices of the agency around the world, the foreign agents will naturally have a field day structuring system to cater to their own profits. In the fifty-two years of relationship with Liberia, the IRI and its affiliate companies underwent several corporate transformations. By the 1990s, Archibald Stewart became head of ITC and established a peculiar international network of companies, unprecedented in the history of open registry shipping. The International Registries, Inc. (IRI), the Marshall Islands, Maritime and Corporate Administrators Inc.(MIMCA), the Trust Company of the Marshall Islands, Inc. (TCMI), the Administrative Control Services Inc. (ADCON) and DUNOON were companies formed and operated by Stewart and his associates, in addition to ITC, to administer the Liberian and Marshall Islands registries simultaneously.

All the companies, including ITC, operated from the same office and bore the identical address at 11495 Commerce Park Drive, Reston, Virginia 22091 (RL vs. IRI), paid for from proceed from the Liberian tonnage and corporate taxes.  This is possible when the only interest of the Flag State, Liberia, is the annual remittance which is calculated as gross revenue from corporate and tonnage taxes minus operating and other expenses, minus 20% agency fee. It becomes more interesting when the Flag State, Liberia, does not know or is not interested in the intricacies of how many and what types and sizes of ships constitute the registry or what actual maritime services are being provided over the accounting period, etc. etc. The Flag State, Liberia, has showed little interests in leveraging other opportunities for technical training of its nationals for employment onboard vessels, or sourcing opportunities for procurement and other services for its small businesses related to the huge fleet under its national flag.

Flag of Registration

By now you may have noticed that no mention has been made about the performance of the technical maritime duties by the agents. As a matter of fact, both agents, IRI and LISCR have done excellent by international standards in the execution of their delegated functions. The Liberia Ship Registry, although an open registry, is among the most respected in the industry both for adherence to the relevant international conventions and response to the needs of the ship-owners. It is, however, time for a new thinking in how Liberia manages its assets, capabilities and natural advantages to enhance the prosperity of the larger part of its small population. To quote Edward Stettinius seventy years ago, “…it was not necessary for Liberians to live poorly.”

To be simplistic, the most certain element of progress is ownership. For any family, community, organization or country to progress, it must own up to its existence and advancement. Liberia has been slow to own up to its existence and as such has continued to depend, both implicitly and explicitly, on the action of others for its existence and advancement. Our marine resource is our most abundant and certain resource base. But it must be harnessed to bring value to our country. We have been blessed with 350 miles of coastline and 70,000 square nautical miles of ocean resources, mostly untapped. Our maritime policy is narrowly focused on ship registry which in the large scheme of things constitute a small part of the industry. The only obvious reason why Liberia has not evolved is because we have restricted our scope. The maritime industry is knowledge centric, that is why the quality of the training of Liberians leading the industry is cardinal to its viability.

The most important resource of any good functioning organization is its qualified people. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the best example of this reality. More than 90% of Permanent Representative of governments to the International Maritime Organization(IMO) are graduates of either the World Maritime University or other maritime institutions. Graduates of the World Maritime University hold senior positions in the industry, serving as top managers, ministers of transport, directors of shipping companies, heads of maritime academies, managing directors of seaports and officers in navy, coast guard, merchant marine vessels, as well as representing their home countries at international forums and organizations. The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kitack Lim from the Republic of South Korea, is a Maritime Administration graduate of the World Maritime University (WMU).

Between 2006 and his election to the position of Secretary General of the IMO in 2016, he served as Director General of the Maritime Safety Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM), then as a Senior Maritime Attaché at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in London and led all IMO work for the Republic of Korea, serving as a Permanent Representative to IMO up to August 2009. Following that, he was re-appointed Director General for Maritime Safety Bureau (MLTM). In March 2011, Mr. Lim was appointed Commissioner of the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal (KMST) and in July 2012, he assumed the position of President of Busan Port Authority, a position he served until his country submitted his name into contention for the position of Secretary General of the international Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2016. All the other contenders for the position were also graduates of the World Maritime University (WMU).

Leadership at the Liberian Maritime Authority, Liberia Maritime Training Institute, positions for Liberian nationals in LISCR, Permanent Representative to the IMO in London, the National Port Authority, designated national positions in port concessions including APM Terminals and any positions reserved for Liberians in International Maritime Organizations (IMO) and other conferences must be filled by Liberians who have acquired the requisite training in Maritime Affairs and Maritime Law from the World Maritime University (WMU), International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI), Regional Maritime Institute in Ghana and other maritime training institutions around the world, if our country is to take advantage of the unlimited opportunities for growth, employment and wealth creation in this lucrative sector. Maritime is a specialized industry, but it is also a conservative institution that gives value to its affiliates.

Liberia Maritime

This work represents a direct appeal to the President-Elect George Mannah Weah and his team as they assume leadership of Liberia. The Maritime industry is one of the few industries that has the potential to provide the much-needed economic relief that is being demanded by our people. That relief has its best chance of reality with the industry in the hands of our best trained nationals and their international network of colleagues willing and able to collaborate for Liberia’s advancement. I submit the names and qualification of the following maritime trained experts for the consideration of the new government for leadership in the Liberia Maritime Authority, Liberia Permanent Representative to the IMO, LISCR, Liberia Maritime Training Institute, Liberia National Port Authority and Liberia Coast Guard.  These are the names of our maritime experts available locally.

NO. NAME SPECIALIZATION GRAD.YEAR
International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI)
1. Margaret Ansumana Master of Law / International Maritime Law 1998
2. Jeffrey George Master of Law / International Maritime Law 2008
3. Isaac Lysor Jallah Master of Law / International Maritime Law 2010
4. Nya Sannagon Gbaintor Master of Law / International Maritime Law 2012
5. Adolphus Dorwoan Karnuah II Master of Law / International Maritime Law 2013
World Maritime University (WMU)
1. Lamii A. Kromah Msc. General Maritime Administration 1985
2. Simond Raymond Bruce, Sr. Msc. Maritime Safety Administration (E) 1985
3. G. Richie Greenfield Msc. General Maritime Administration 1987
Nyepan J. Bropleh Msc. General Maritime Administration 1987
Jefferson C. Moore Msc. General Maritime Administration 1987
G. William Sharpe Jr. Msc. General Maritime Administration 1988
James Dogba-Yassah Msc. Port & Shipping Administration 1989
Julius J. Gooding Msc. Port & Shipping Administration 1989
John Wynston Stewart Jr. Msc. Port & Shipping Administration 1990
Lawrence Dehniah Barchue Msc. Maritime Education & Training 1991
Thomas Kpardeh Wilson Msc. Port Management 1997
Joyce Lucretia Reeves-Woods Msc. Port Management 1998
Yvonne Kaulah Clinton Msc. Maritime Safety Administration 1998
Charles A. Gono, Jr. Msc. Maritime Safety & Environnemental Protection 1999
Jebeh Paasewe Msc. Port Management 1999
Romeo R. Clarke Msc. Port Management 2000
Cyrus L. Gray Jr. Msc. Shipping Management / MS Logistics Project Mgmt 2000/2006
Alvin N. Jones Msc. Port Management 2000
Julius N. Nyangbeh Msc. Port Management 2000
Amos Lasannah Zanwonjah Msc. Port Management 2000
John F. Harvey Jr. Msc. Maritime Education & Training 2008
Jerry Suakollie Mulbah Msc. Maritime Safety & Environmental Administration 2010
Mohamed Lavalie Msc. Shipping & Port Management (SPM) 2012
Mulbah K. Yorgbor Jr. Msc. Maritime Education & Training 2014
Daniel Tarr Msc. Marine Environmental & Ocean Management 2014
Sheck Abdul Sheriff Msc. Marine Environmental & Ocean Management 2014
Matthew Opah Sulon Msc. Martime Safety & Environmental Administration 2014
Emmanuel Mezoh Dolakeh Msc. Martime Safety & Environmental Administration 2016
33. Charles Paul Vah II Msc. Maritime Law & Policy 2016
34. George Senator Siebo Msc. Maritime Law & Policy 2016
35. Grace M. Vaye Msc. Martime Safety & Environmental Administration 2017
36. Roger Mengistu Teah Msc. Maritime Law & Policy 2017
37 Herron Bledee Msc. Maritime Education & Training 2017
38. Emmanuel Mentee Redd Sr. Msc. Maritime Law & Policy 2017
39. Emma C. Metieh Glassco Msc. Ocean Sustainability, Governance & Management 2017
40. Debbie Porlee Cooper Msc. Martime Safety & Environmental Administration 2017
Regional Maritime University (RMU)
1. Abraham Attoh BSc. Port & Shipping Management
2. Abubakar Sheriff BSc. Marine Engineering
3. Ausgustine Manoballah MSc. Port & Shipping Management
4. Anthony T. Twe BSc. Electrical & Electronic Engineering 2008
5. Boersen Hinneh BSc. Port & Shipping Management
6. Fidel Dole Diploma, Port & Shipping Management
7. Daniel Tarr BSc. Electrical & Electronic Engineering 2008
8. Ddarius Diahn BSc. Port & Shipping Management
9. Donald Gwaikolo BSc. Marine Engineering
10. Emile S. Wollo BSc. Marine Engineering
11. Emmanuel Mezoh Dolakeh BSc. Electrical & Electronic Engineering 2008
12. Emmanuel Tony Doe BSc. Port & Shipping Management
13. Emmanuel Zawolo Sendolo BSc. Port & Shipping Management
14. Ernest Keleko Boakai BSc. Marine Engineering
15. Frederick Varnie BSc. Port & Shipping Management
16. Garnioe Kardoh BSc. Nautical Studies
17. Grace Maweaha Vaye BSc. Marine Engineering 2008
18. Phillip Samuels BSc. Electrical & Electronic Engineering
19. Julius Woodson BSc. in Marine Engineering
20. Mathias K. Bernard BSc. in Marine Engineering
21. Michael Toayen BSc. in Marine Engineering 2008
22. Okasa Bigboy Samah BSc.  Port & Shipping Management 2008
23. Oscar Tarpeh BSc. in Marine Engineering
24. Roger Teah Diploma, B.Sc., M.Sc.  Port & Shipping Management 2010
25. Samuel Gwyan BSc.  Nautical Studies
26. Samuel Torh Tugba BSc.  Nautical Studies
27. Smith Jallah BSc.  Nautical Studies
28. Spurgeon Clarence Capehart BSc.  Port & Shipping Management
29. Stephen Saliah Kowo BSc.  Port & Shipping Management
30. Tarnue Kpangbala BSc. in Marine Engineering
31. Mulbah Gayku Gweseh BSc. Electrical & Electronic Engineering 2009
32. Theophilus Yanford BSc.  Nautical Studies
33. Varnie Baffie BSc. Electrical & Electronic Engineering
34. Eric Bruce BSc. Port & Shipping

Management

2008
Author Cyrus M. Gray
Cyrus M. Gray

CYRUS L. GRAY, JR., MSc. MSc.

The Author is an International Transportation Expert of nearly 20 years with training, expertise and experience in Maritime and Civil Aviation in both the public and private sectors and the global logistics theater. He is author of two books and the Publisher of the Business and Public Policy Magazine, The New Liberian (www.newliberian.net)

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are not necessarily endorsed by West African Journal Magazine 

Liberia: Incoming National Legislature Selects New Leadership

Monrovia, 16 January, 2018 – In the West African nation of Liberia, less than a week to the inauguration of President-Elect George Weah to succeed outgoing president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, lawmakers on Monday convened the first session of the 54th Legislature where a new corp of leadership was selected.

Speaker Bhofal Chambers
Speaker Bhofal Chambers

Maryland County Rep. Bhofal Chambers emerged as Speaker unopposed while Bong County Rep. Prince K. Moye was elected deputy speaker over Grand Bassa County Rep. Hans Barchue, who previously held that position.

But the election of Sinoe County Senator Albert T. Chie as president pro-tempore astonished political analysts who voiced criticisms that both legislative and executive powers have now gone to the southeast of the small West African nation, since President-elect Weah also hails from Sinoe in the southeast.

But the new President Pro-Tempore Senator Chie of  Sinoe differs, arguing that Weah had been Senator of Montserrado County; an unamusing reality since Weah ran and won and has been Senator for Montserrado County since 2014.

Yet Weah has, at no point, ever denied the truism of his roots in Sinoe County in southeastern Liberia, Senator Chie argued.

Meanwhile, outgoing Vice President Joseph Boakai and former House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay on Monday turned over their offices to their respective successors.

Vice President-elect Jewel Howard praised Dr. Boakai for his fine leadership as leader of the Liberian Senate during the past twelve years, and suggested retention of some of Boakai’s key staff for her start-off, saying “ we will be new to this office”.

Outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

In another political development, barely one week before President Sirleaf hand over power to her successor Weah, executives of the outgoing ruling Unity Party (UP) have expelled the Standard Bearer Emeritus President Johnson-Sirleaf and others including Commany Wesseh and Medina S. Wesseh for what has been described as party “disloyalty and gross violation of its constitution”.

Executives of the ruling Unity Party (UP), in a statement issued over the weekend in Monrovia, accused the expelled members of “campaigning for the CDC.”

But President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf rebuked the action as “illegal”, saying there was not even a due process prior to taking of the action.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

Liberians are divided over this strange development as they countdown to a historical democratic transition never seen for more than seven decades since William VS Tubman was inaugurated on 3rd January 1944. President elect George Weah will be inaugurated on January 22nd to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

By Tepitapia Sannah in Monrovia

 

The opposition in Equatorial Guinea is accusing the dictatorial government of what it calls the “cruel and inhumane” treatment of detainees following the death of an opposition activist who was being held in government custody.

Map of Equatorial Guinea
Map of Equatorial Guinea

According to the opposition, activist Santiago Ebee Ela died at the main police station over the weekend  as a result of what the Citizens for Innovation (CI)opposition group called “cruel torture.”

 

The opposition activist was picked up on January 2 from his home, according to the opposition group which says it believes that there are over 200 of its activists in government detention, adding that, “The death of Santiago Ebee Ela is a consequence of the cruel and inhumane treatment shown to CI detainees by security forces of the PDGE regime,” an apparent reference to the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea headed by President Teodoro Obiang.

The Equatorial Guinean government has not responded to the news of the death of activist Ela.

 

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema who became President in 1979 is now Africa’s longest serving leader which has violently crushed dissent and opposition to his dictatorial rule.

West African Journal Magazine

African Countries Unload on U.S. President Trump After His Disparaging Remarks

Several African nations have denounced the characterization of their nations as “shit-hole countries” by U.S. President Donald Trump.

US President Mr. Donald Trump
US President Mr. Donald Trump

The vulgar reference was reportedly made by the American President at a meeting with Congressional members last week at the White House.

In an official response, the continental group known as the African Union (AU), in a statement issued last week from his headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia said, “The African Union Commission is frankly alarmed at statements by the president of the United States when referring to migrants of African countries and others in such contemptuous terms. Considering the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the U.S. during the Atlantic slave trade, this flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice.”, the statement released by its spokesperson said.

The southern African powerhouse South Africa summoned made a formal protest on Monday over the U.S. President’s remarks and at a meeting with the top U.S.    representative in Johannesburg, South Africa said that it was concerned about the “statements that were allegedly made by President Donald Trump.”

U.S. diplomats in Ghana, Botswana, and Senegal were also summoned by those countries in order to register their protest at the statement allegedly made by the U.S. President.

African Union ambassadors at the U.N. on last Friday issued a strongly worded statement in which they said, ” “The African Union Mission wishes to express its infuriation, disappointment and outrage over the unfortunate comment made by Mr. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, which remarks dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity.”

The Gambian Foreign Ministry denounced the U.S. President’s remarks saying, “The Government of the Republic of The Gambia is appalled by the remarks and finds it inconceivable that a President of a country regarded by many as one of the most tolerant and democratic countries in the world would utter such racial remarks.”

“The Government of the Republic of The Gambia is appalled by the remarks and finds it inconceivable that a President of a country regarded by many as one of the most tolerant and democratic countries in the world would utter such racial remarks,” the statement noted, and concluded by saying “The Government of The Gambia, therefore, calls on President Trump to withdraw his remarks and give a fitting apology to the African continent and Haiti.”

President Trump and some of his allies have denied making the disparaging comments.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

Liberian Ministry of Defense Dedicates English Language Center

January 9, 2017 – The Liberian Ministry of National Defense dedicated the first-ever Armed Forces of Liberia English Language Center in Monrovia, Liberia Jan. 8, 2018.

Dedication of English Language Center
Dedication of English Language Center in Liberia

According to the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), the project is a collaboration between the Liberian Ministry of Defense(MOD) and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy Monrovia, Liberia.

The facility is designed to provide English language training to Armed Forces of Liberia Soldiers and Ministry civilians to prepare them for overseas training and other operational requirements. It includes the renovation of the Language Center, purchase of English curriculum materials, and the training of AFL language instructors, AFRICOM said.

The purpose of the new English Language Center is to prepare soldiers to pass the English Comprehension Level (ECL) exam which is needed to attend professional military education and other U.S.-based training.

The OSC supports the development of the Armed Forces of Liberia through four program areas: strengthening defense institutions; professional development; medical readiness; and maritime security.  In each area, the OSC provides leadership, resource management, and professional military education to civilians, officers, and non-commissioned officers within the Ministry of Defense.

Lieutenant General Thomas D. Waldhauser
Lieutenant General Thomas D. Waldhauser – AFRICOM

Led by Marine Corp General  Thomas D. Waldhauser, the United States Africa Command, (U.S. AFRICOM) is one of six of the U.S. Defense Department’s geographic combatant commands and is responsible to the Secretary of Defense for military relations with African nations, the African Union, and African regional security organizations.

A full-spectrum combatant command, U.S. AFRICOM is responsible for all U.S. Department of Defense operations, exercises, and security cooperation on the African continent, its island nations, and surrounding waters. AFRICOM began initial operations on Oct. 1, 2007, and officially became fully operational capable on Oct. 1, 2008.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

According to several international sources including UNICEF, UNESCO, CIA World Fact Book, Index Mundi and others, the literacy rate in Liberia stands at 47.6% of a population of 4.5 million people. Literacy is defined as the those over the age of 15 who can read and write.

Globally, Liberia ranks 106 on the literacy scale: female literacy is at 32.8%,  and the male literacy rate is 62.4%.

Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine