Liberia: Scores of Travelers Nearly Missed Their Flight Due to Uncontrolled Traffic on RIA Highway Resulting from UMU Graduation

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MONROVIA – Scores of travelers leaving the country via the Roberts International Airport nearly missed their flight on Tuesday due to the heavy and uncontrolled traffic on the RIA Highway caused by the United Methodist University’s graduation.

The airline was gracious enough to have delayed by an hour to give passengers a chance to board since half of its travelers were stranded in the traffic.

The hour delay in Monrovia, however, led to many passengers missing their connecting flights from Accra, Ghana to other destinations.

The UMU graduation ceremony was held along the highway which is the only route leading to the country’s only international airport. The highway which has been under reconstruction for about a year now with little progress has often been described as a death trap for travelers.

Travelers who were left stranded on Tuesday said the police did nothing to ensure the free flow of traffic on that important road.

An officer of the Liberia National Police was heard suggesting to a 50-year-old international passenger to get on a motorcycle with her luggage if she wanted to make it to the airport in time.

The Africa World Airlines leaves Monrovia at 2 pm but left at 3:30 pm.

“It’s the Africa World Airlines that leaves at 2:30. Half the plane did not make it by the close of check-in. They have had to delay the flight by an hour to give us a chance,” the traveler said.

An international passenger (asked for anonymity) who also nearly missed the flight expressed disappointment at the level of incompetency in Liberia. He lamented that the level of corruption and incompetency he has observed in Liberia overshadows similar in all countries he has served in, including other war-torn regions.

“It really was stressful and embarrassing for the country. People will not want to come to Liberia if they have to deal with this,” he said.

It can be recalled that on February 20, 2020, President George Manneh Weah broke grounds for the expansion and pavement of the RIA Highway. The 45km links Monrovia to the airport.

The project, which is being implemented through a China-Liberia joint venture with East International Group and China Railways being the contractors, is worth about US$95m.  

Construction works have been described as sub-standards due to the failure of the Ministry of Public Works to supervise and thoroughly monitor the ongoing works.

FrontPageAfrica visited the various sites where works are ongoing over the weekend and observed that no representative of the Ministry of Public Works was present at the site visited. A few Chinese engineers, casual workers, and security officers from the Kakata City Corporation were spotted. “This is a lack of coordination, proper planning and failing to do due diligence or feasibility studies before embarking on such a huge project. This is just being inconsiderate to the impact that this project will have on the environment and on the lives of people who live, work or travel on that particular highway. This is like giving somebody a job to do and the person goes about doing the job without even doing proper planning,” said Mr. Adolphus McCritty, a seasoned civil engineer, and former President of the Liberia Institute of Architects.

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