LIBERIA, which has the second largest fleet of ships in the world after Panama, is to stay clear of Iran under sanctions placed on Teheran by the US to disrupt the Iranian shipping network being used to sell the country’s oil, the Executive Chairman of the Liberia International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR), Elan Cohen, has told Africa Briefing.
US President Donald Trump recently imposed sanctions on Iran’s elaborate shipping network that sells oil, and unveiled a $15 million reward to anyone with information that disrupts the scheme.
The US hopes that further isolating Iran would force the country to return to the table to renegotiate an international agreement over Teheran’s nuclear programme.
‘We are in full compliance with everything related to sanctions matters, particularly to US sanctions,’ Cohen told Africa Briefing in an exclusive interview in Monrovia after the graduation ceremony of 24 cadets in marine engineering at the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI).
‘We do as a company but also the government of Liberia, more importantly, in terms of co-operating with international partners. We are number two in the world and also the fastest growing registry this year and has been for a period of time. We hope to soon become the number one registry in terms of size and the quality of vessels that come in,’ he continued.
Cohen said LISCR wanted to maintain a good international reputation.
‘We do not want to take vessels that are dangerous to people or problematic. We want quality vessels. We want to go digital in most of what we are doing. We want to make sure that the integrity of the registry is preserved,’ he added.
LISCR took over the running of the LMTI two years ago to help improve the programmes it runs.
‘We first want to focus on training people that will become marketable. We do hope to expand this training centre in the future. We want to give maritime students the best training as is required internationally,’ he explained.
‘Training is very important because it shows our continued commitment to the Liberian people.We are making positive change in Liberia and as a service provider for ship owners.
We hope we can help bring economic change in Liberia for the betterment of everyone.
It took us about two years to revitalise this maritime training centre,’ he said.
‘Some of the graduates from here will be employed by some of most respected international shipping companies. What this means for Liberia is that it is becoming a flagship in the shipping industry. We are starting with a small number but as time goes on, Liberians can become port administrators, and professionals. We are trying to build capacity around the world. Our focus is to make people marketable. We have invested a significant amount of money here.’
At the graduation ceremony, Liberian President George Weah applauded the new graduates.
According to Cohen, for the first time those who graduated have secured employment or are continuing education opportunities.
‘Several of the LMTI cadets will be employed by esteemed maritime shipping companies, while others will pursue further studies at the Regional Maritime University in Ghana,’ Cohen told Africa Briefing.
LMTI chairman Avi Zaidenberg, thanked President Weah for his support for the LMTI and his commitment to youth education.
‘None of this could have become possible without the incredible support from you, Mr. President, and your efforts to empower the Liberian youth,’ Zaidenberg said during the ceremony.