Ch-ch-ch-changes: Phones, Ports
Cell phone towers are being erected in far-out counties, which is great when your partner’s job has her driving out to the boonies all the time. There are no telephone land lines in the country. A SIMM card costs $5, and service comes via scratchcards, available in many denominations from street corner “business centers”, where you can also pay to charge your phone, which must come in handy to the vast majority of people who have no electricity. There’s a major war for first-time customers between the different phone providers, so the radio commercials are incessant and the billboards are everywhere.
Our foolproof one-source snap judgment parachute journalism method reveals that corruption at Liberian ports is much reduced under the new administration. One resident alien merchant tells LL that he used to be able to vastly under-report his bill of lading when importing a shipping container, and then pay the ports people not to open it on arrival, but nowadays that’s no longer possible. “At least for now,” he says. This guy says he thinks that in general, corruption is waning, or at least changing form, but that things may get worse again soon. He’s accustomed to being shaken down by people claiming to represent one ministry or another, who approach him claiming that some piece of his business paperwork was incorrectly submitted or whatever. This kind of thing is now happening less often, he says.
(FYI The Box is new book on the history of the shipping container and the impact that containerized shipping on the global economy.)