PRESIDENT GEORGE WEAH has been quiet for far too long. Too many things are unfolding around him, too many things are falling apart and no one in the president’s inner circle has the gravitas to tell him to wake up! Had SN Brussels crashed Wednesday night due to yet another lighting incident at the Roberts International Airport, it would have been hell to pay – and a lot of blood would have been on the President’s hands.
SORRY FOLKS, there’s no better way to put it. President Weah must either muster the courage to make serious changes in his government, particularly the current team at the RIA or leave the office for the safety of Liberians and the sanity of Liberia’s immediate political and economic future.
WEDNESDAY EVENING could have been a tragedy. SN Brussels, one of only two flights departing Liberia weekly to Europe was forced to abort and head to neighboring Sierra Leone, as it was about to descend at the RIA.
IT GETS WORSE, the plane, according to airline and airport staffers, was nearly out of fuel and could have crashed, if not for the quick thinking of the pilots, and perhaps a bit of luck, that it even managed to land in Sierra Leone for fueling.
PASSENGERS ON THE FLIGHT panicked as the plane struggled to land, then take off for next-door, Sierra Leone. Many of the passengers were screaming and fearing for their lives.
IN A VIDEO POSTED by a passenger on the plane, an airline stewardess is heard telling passengers that “the airport in Monrovia is closed because there is no electricity at the moment.”
THE AIRLINE STAFFER IS ALSO heard saying that there was no way of contacting the ground staff at RIA. “So, we have decided to go back to Freetown. In Freetown, we will see if we can take some fuel.”
AUTHORITIES AT THE RIA informed FrontPageAfrica late Wednesday that the airport crew responsible for lighting at the airport were responsible for the mishap at the airport and that those responsible would be penalized.
AS A RESULT OF THE MISHAP, the outbound flight initially scheduled to take off from the RIA at 8:30 was pushed to 9:30 and later moved to 10:30, as passengers waited, hoping that the plane would make another attempt at landing at the RIA.
THIS IS THE SECOND time in less than three months that an incoming flight into the RIA had been forced to abort.
ON FEBRUARY 20, this year, a Royal Air Maroc flight scheduled to land at the RIA at 4am was forced to abort the landing due to the dark runway. The flight had made several attempts, using the navigation system to no avail, forcing the pilots to take the plane for landing in neighboring Sierra Leone.
THE BASIC RUNWAY lighting system consists of two straight parallel lines of runway edge lights defining the lateral limits of the runway. The lights are aviation white, although aviation yellow may be substituted for a distance of 2000 feet from the far end of the runway to indicate a caution zone.
ADDITIONALLY, ON MARCH 28, President Weah and other government officials were greeted with darkness upon their arrival at the RIA from the United Arab Emirates where they had gone to participate in the EXPO Dubai 2020.
A DAY LATER March 29, travelers were again compelled to use the torch of their respective phones to provide light in the terminals at the airport. A video that went viral on social media, showed the travelers complaining and expressing serious frustration over the disgraceful situation while awaiting their respective flights for departure along with their luggage.
MR. MARTIN HAYES, Managing Director of the RIA, in a recent interview with FrontPageAfrica, lamented some of the challenges. “This is an international airport, and we have serious challenges when it comes to running the airport. I had to buy two brand new generators. At times, things get bad but what makes you a good leader is how quickly you can put things together and make it better for Mama Liberia. We have serious challenges when it comes to running the airport. It is difficult when you run the airport on generators and each costs US$47,000 just to keep the airport running.”
IRONICALLY, PRIOR TO THE USHERING IN of the Weah-led CDC government, Mr. Hayes was Deputy Security Director for Operation and later, Chief of Intelligence at the RIA. When the Weah government came to office, he was appointed as Deputy Director for Administration and later Managing Director, following the dismissal of Bishop J. Allan Klayee.
RUNNING AN AIRPORT may seem simple but is a rather complex and complicated operation that requires experienced hands with years of dealing with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, passengers’ safety as well as aviation and business management.
WHILE WE ARE IN no position to judge the qualification of Mr. Hayes, President Weah must understand that Liberia is beyond partisan or friendship play. The President was elected for all Liberians and not just those who sing his praises or tell him the things he wants to hear.
THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, THAT AFTER TWO major landing problems at the RIA, some heads need to roll, those in authority at the airport need to be removed because they lack the competence to run the airport.
YESTERDAY, IT WAS ROYAL AIR MAROC, last night it was SN Brussels. Which airline is next?
PRESIDENT WEAH, and those who sing his praises, continue to play deaf ears whenever critics raise issues that may hamper the well-being of Liberia and Liberians.
WHEN CRITICS wailed about the construction of a playground not too far from the Spriggs Payne Airport, it was yet another display of defiance, at least until some tragedy happens in the not-too-distant future. God Forbid!
EVEN THE PRESIDENT’S own legacy is not safe. The national team, the Lone Star cannot play on its home soil because the stadium has been deemed unfit by both the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Yet, the Minister of Sports still has a job and parading around with the President every chance he gets.
PRESIDENT WEAH must make up his mind and decide what he really wants to do with his presidency. Except for using his pulpit at his Forky Klon Jlateh Family Fellowship Church, to rain insults on his critics, the President rarely addresses the nation in the wake of so many mysterious deaths, rising crime rates, widespread corruption, a dismal economy, and an uncertain future for Liberia.
NO ONE PERSON LOVES LIBERIA MORE. The forefathers and those before the current generation fought so that Liberians can have a better future. Sadly, leader after leader has taken Liberia for a ride, enriching themselves to the detriment of those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.
PLEASE, MR. PRESIDENT, do not wait for a plane to crash and kill passengers before making changes at the airport; do not wait for Liberians to die from hunger before making the changes needed to fix what is being broken under your watch.
FOR THE RECORD, not everyone who criticizes you want to see you fail. Leaders must develop a thick skin and hear the cries of the people before it’s too late, especially when the writing on the wall is becoming clearer and clearer.
PRESIDENT WEAH HAS had a successful life as a world-class footballer, a beautiful game he was great at playing and mastered well. It made him great. However, the Presidency is no laughing matter. Elbert Hubbard, the late American writer, publisher, and artist, once said, “The final proof of greatness is being able to endure criticism without resentment.”
PRESIDENT WEAH, the ball is in your court to do what is right for Liberia. We know you mean well, but the honeymoon period of the 2017 election that brought you to power is long gone, it is time to do the right thing, for the sake of Liberia and your own personal legacy.
THE LESSONS from history have been painful to bear for Liberia and simply, too ugly to revisit. It is our hope that you see the light before you. Remember, Charles Taylor is at The Hague and many of those who sang his praises are still around, saying, “We used to advise him.” The same was said of the late Samuel Doe, long after he was gone. Do not allow your advisors to steer you wrong, do not open your ears to the sweet songs, the sycophantic followers are singing in your ears.
At the end of the day, history will only remember one person, George Manneh Weah. A hint to the very wise!!!