LIBERIA – The Liberia Maritime Authority, as the Designated Authority of Liberia’s International Port Security Program held a meeting with a delegation from the United States Coast Guard to mark the beginning of a weeklong pre-assessment visit to Liberia.
According to the LiMA’s press statement, in remarks, the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Liberia Maritime Authority, Eugene Lenn Nagbe stressed the critical consideration Liberia gives to International Security program with the cognizance that security issues within waters worldwide do not only affect select countries but Liberia as well.
“The Liberia Maritime Authority attaches great importance to security standards to remain in compliance so that we can be a strong contributor in the chain of securing our waters and not be a weakling, given that one weakling would determine the strength of the entire chain,” he said.
According to Commissioner Nagbe, the last visit of the US Coast Guard identified some areas that needed to be improved, and efforts have been made to direct focus on those aspects of the country’s port security regime. Moreover, Liberia is still open to improvement.
He assured the visiting US Coast Guard officials that the Liberian team will ensure that the assessments are carried out freely with minimal interference as a demonstration of the country’s willingness to take the security of its ports to another level.
Commissioner Nagbe emphasized that the US Coast Guard assessment tram’s visit is very critical for Liberia as a country working hard to improve its security indicators. “Since your last visit, a whole lot has happened and where there would be concerns for attention, we will act appropriately,” he assured the visiting USCG team.
As a way to provide the team with empirical context, the Director of Maritime Security and Chief ISPS Compliance Officer, Mr. Simeon Cheah said several measures have been taken to strengthen international port security programs across the country with periodic assessments and audits of approved security procedures at various facilities.
He said further that where challenges were identified, steps were taken to correct them, adding that with the involvement of all stakeholders; security drills were conducted nationwide in a bid to test the viability of security practices.
The Liberian Maritime Security Chief informed the United States Coast Guard officials that fines, penalties, and other forms of punitive actions are considered to compel compliance among the various agencies of Government.
Mr. Cheah indicated that a National Maritime Security Strategy is being reviewed for implementation to emphasize Liberia’s commitment to upholding international best practices in security standards.
The Head of the visiting US Coast Guard delegation, Mr. Daniel VanBuskirk said the assessment would seek to identify best practices in the implementation of the port security program. These findings, according to him, are shared with other nations for the purpose of knowledge sharing, alignment of security practices, and giving keen attention to low-cost innovations and security practices that have shown to have a significant impact.
He stressed that the US Coast Guard believes that in sharing these best practices, security can be enhanced and confidence boosted.
“We have witnessed continual improvement in security in Liberia since 2016. So, ships that come to the United States from Liberia are no longer subject to certain conditions,” he indicated.
Mr. VanBuskirk pointed out that the visiting team would review the port security system that was in place before Liberia was removed from the US Coast Guard Advisory List. This would be to ensure that the improved security system is in place post-Covid-19.
According to the US Coast Guard Regional Analyst for Africa and the Middle East, he was glad to hear that fines and other punitive regimens are in place to ensure that every major actor plays their part. He said this was not the case in other countries.