Liberia: Members of Diplomatic Corps Visit Roberts International Airport to Assess Conditions
Margibi County – Several members of the diplomatic corps on Thursday, April 7, 2022, visited and toured the facilities of the Roberts International Airport to assess for themselves the present condition of the airport.
The visit of the members of the diplomatic corps comes amidst reports that the airport has been without electricity for weeks, posing danger to flights and airport users.
The news of the deplorable conditions of the airport has caused many condemnations from the public including former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
After more than an hour of a closed meeting between members of the diplomatic community, and senior government officials, especially within the aviation sector, a tour was taken access to the facilities of the airport.
The members of the diplomatic missions in Liberia firstly inspected the runway of the airport before reaching out to the Liberia Fire Service Department.
There at the department, firefighters displayed their water trucks to show how prepared and equipped they are to fight any fire outbreak that may occur at the airport.
After the assessment of the fire department, the members foreign missions to Liberia went to the power station, the area that hosts the generators that produce electricity to the entire airport.
Also, the team of diplomats visited the control tower of the Roberts International Airport. The control tower deals with the lower air space at the airport. On duty were several individuals who were also interrogated by the members of the diplomatic corps including the United States Ambassador Michael McCarthy.
Alexandra Saye is the Manager for Air Traffic at the Roberts International Airport. He told the visiting diplomats that his team has been working 24 hours every day to make sure planes that are coming into the country or going out of the country are safe.
Despite boasting of trained staff, Saye said the building that hosts the Control Tower Department at the Roberts International Airport needs improvement. According to him, the building has only one entrance, something he says is dangerous in times of emergency.
“There is only one way into the building and one way out of the building. The stairs are too long to climb nowadays. We need a lift to have easy access to the building. In case of fire outbreak, there is no escape route of the building,” he lamented.
Among the government officials present during the tour were the Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. Minister Kemayah disclosed that the government has promised to allocate funding to give the building a facelift and also additional training for staff at the control tower.
Foreign Minister Kemayah told staff at the control tower: “The government has promised to recondition this building. With training, I can assure you that with the level of partnership, we will deal with the issue of training.”
The visiting team reached out to Flight Information Region at the Roberts International Airport before ending their visit at the solar power station.
The diplomats did not share your observation with the press, however, Musa Shannon, the Chairman of the Board of Liberia Airport Authority said that the visit of the diplomatic corps was a good step in the right direction.
“I think they were fascinated about their visit. They saw our new headquarters. We took them on the runway and the lights on the runway were very efficient. They toured almost the entire facility. So, I think their visit is a good step in the right direction.”
According to Shannon, the Roberts International Airport has lots of challenges. He added that the team at the airport is working to solve those challenges.
“I became Chairman of the Board of RIA two years ago and I met a game plan that was already in place, a very good game plan by the previous management that is up to the board to implement. Unfortunately, we ran into coronavirus. We started to go into survival mode, meaning the airport, for the first time since Ebola and our civil war was shut down,” Shannon said.
He added: “It led to daunting issues and we were not able to immediately engage in some of those strategies. We were in survival mode. Now that we are coming out of the coronavirus, the urgency of the power situation has come to the full front, the government of Liberia has put its feet forward to make sure that the airport authority has all of the support of solar panel that will produce three megawatts of power that will not solve all the power issue 100 percent but will help the power when we are not on the national grid.”
He promised that the airport authority with support from the government will change some of their equipment including their navigator equipment to a state-of-the-art so that the airport can be on par with other nations’ airports.