Ellen Blows The Whistle

By Mark N. Mengonfia –mmenginfia@gmail.com

MONROVIA-Liberia’s only international Airport has in recent times been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

It has caused what many Liberians have called ‘poor’ management of the facility by the ‘Pro Poor’ Government headed by soccer icon President George M. Weah.

There have been cancellations of flights due to poor visibility.

Some flights have to divert to Free Town, Sierra Leone for the safety of their passengers.

Due to the poor management of the Roberts International Airport (RIA), Air France announced in a release last month saying, beginning this April, they were ceasing to operate in Liberia.

More to the ending of operation of Air France’s operation in Liberia, many Liberians have complained of the condition of the RIA due to the lack of stable electricity at the facility.

The condition has persisted for a period of time until former Liberian President; Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf spoke of it recently when she paid homage to departed statesman, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer who died February 16, 2022.

When former President Sirleaf was paying her tribute, she indicated, “I received many calls from people who wanted to attend the funeral of Dr. Sawyer, but I do not see them here. Maybe RIA was dark”.

The statement by the former Liberian leader caused a roar of laughter at the Centennial Pavilion where people were mourning the loss of the statesman.

Apparently, the statement by the former Liberian President has pushed the George M. Weah administration to retain the decision of working on the airport.

At a special news conference Monday, April 4, 2022 in relation to the state of affairs at the RIA, Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill said, President George Weah is very concerned about the situation at the Airport and is now putting in place measures to help address the condition.

Minister McGill during the conference announced a special cabinet team to work with the Airport authorities to make swift interventions.

Some of the prompt interventions according to Minister McGill include, working on the air navigation system, [a system which has not been changed for over  25 (twenty five) years, the improvement of a stable electricity including another source of power, a solar system as well as the increase in fire system equipment among others.

“The RIA Management has been working on it already, but we will work with them now to accelerate the process due to the importance, the President attaches to the issue”, he added.

He said the apron was never a priority when the construction of the airport was done.

Moreover, he emphasized that the jet bridge is unfortunately sitting on the apron which is now sinking.

According to him, the government is looking at workable and holistic approach to the issue and will not shift blames on anyone.

“Lots of people do not up till press time believe that  US$55m was spent on the airport and the reality is that the system has been broken down with the exit of the Chinese after the expiration of their two years contract”, he said.

He announced that the government’s new plan is to sign a new contract with the Chinese to bring them back and to ensure that they help train more Liberians for the process.

Minister McGill puts the cost of the project at around US$22-23m within a period of six to seven months, especially with the involvement of the Legislature.

With all of Liberia’s problems, Minister McGill recently provided some 100 thousand United States Dollars to the Union of Liberian Association in America (ULAA) during their induction ceremony.

All these are happening at a time when Liberians are complaining about the increase in the price of the country’s staple (RICE), lack of stable electricity both at homes and workplaces.


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