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|Custom Brokers Demand Action On Container Theft|
|Published on February 28, 2007||Email To Friend Print Version
By Siafa B. Zogbo
The President of the National Customs Brokers Association of Liberia (NCBAL), Togba Washington, has called on the Government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to conduct a swift investigation into a scandal involving the theft of three forty-foot containers at the Freeport of Monrovia and bring the perpetrators to justice.
According to the NCBAL president, the investigation into the containers theft following the arrest of the alleged perpetrators from the National Port Authority and the Customs Service is long overdue.
In a chat after a meeting with his association over the weekend, Mr. Washington told The Informer that he was blaming the Ministry of Finance for the recent syndicate that was uncovered at the Freeport of Monrovia.
According to the NCBAL president, his Association is finding it difficult to believe that goods would be cleared from the port without the knowledge of assigned personnel of government ministries and agencies.
He said the association further observed that the downsized employees of these ministries and agencies claimed to be custom brokers, who once worked at the port but now have contract with business entities, have been used clandestinely to clear goods at the Freeport.
Washington also claimed that the Association, on numerous occasions, has advised the Ministry of Finance authorities to discourage the personnel of the Bureau of Customs and Excise not to involve them in the clearing because one cannot play a role as player and a referee at the same time.
Meanwhile, the Association has vowed to expose anyone would be caught in the act of smuggling or dubiously clearing goods at the Port of Monrovia.
The NCBAL has also recommended that thorough investigation be done for convicts be prosecuted according to law, while calling on the public not to use non-Customs brokers to conduct clearing exports, but those licensed and accredited for such purposes.
It can be recalled that on February 5, 2007, three forty-foot containers were smuggled out of the Port of Monrovia. After the mysterious smuggling, the discovery of the syndicate of some employees assigned at the Port led to the withdrawing of some ministries and agencies. However, up to present, no action has been taken against them.