Liberia: Letter of Complaint for Safety Issues at the Roberts International Airport

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Many who shared my view feel that there are no redlines left for terrorists to cross. This is a psychological war and succumbing to the strategies would give the enemies superior hand. Let stand up with one voice and call to win this war!

Massa Dopoh, Licensed Master Social Worker

Dover, Delaware, United States of America

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 952-994-3241

To: Mr. Prosper Zo’o Minto’o

Regional Director

Western and Central African (WACAF) Office

ICAO, Western and Central African Office

Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport,

P.O. Box 38050

YOFF Dakar, Sénégal

Tel: +221 33 869 24 24

Fax: +221 33 820 32 59

E-mail: [email protected]

CC: Federal Aviation Administration
Airport Safety and Operations Division (AAS-300)
800 Independence Avenue SW
Washington DC 20591

Phone: (202) 267-8731
Fax: (202) 267-5383

Email: [email protected]

CC: Hon. Chief Moses Y. Kollie, Director General

Liberia Civil Aviation Authority

P.O. Box 68

Harbel, Margibi County

Republic of Liberia

Tel: +231-0776998848/ 0776998849

Email: liberiacaa(at)lcaa.gov.lr

CC: U.S. DEPARTMENT of STATE

Monrovia, Liberia

CC: Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines Client Relation Department

B. House Brussels Airport,

Building 26box 1a.4 B 1831 Diegem, Belgium.

CC: Speaker and Senate Pro-Temp

Liberia National Legislature, Republic of Liberia

Subject: Letter of Complaint for Safety Issues at the Roberts International Airport

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Massa Dopoh, a born and raised Liberian residing in the United States of America, Delaware.  I am writing this letter to officially complain about the hazardous conditions and constant irregular safety issues at the Roberts International Airport in Monrovia, Liberia.

In accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization standards, safety is a core value-offering of rapid and dependable air services, and international cooperation on aviation safety by governments and industry groups, through ICAO which has helped to make commercial aircraft the safest way to travel.

Unfortunately, Liberia’s Roberts International Airport is constantly endangering the lives of innocent passengers traveling to and from Liberia daily. As you are all aware, the people of Liberia have endured so many pains and we just cannot allow another intentional and irresponsible behavior to destroy us. The issues of safety and protection of lives are no longer an unforeseen occurrence at Liberia’s airport but a way of life which is against Federal Aviation Administration Airport Safety and Operations Division and the International Civil Aviation Organization standards.

As the global leader in aviation tasked with one of the key elements to maintaining the vitality of civil aviation that ensures safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally sustainable operations at the global, regional, and national levels, it is our hope that your office will investigate, take actions, and improve the hazardous safety issues at the RIA that have been experienced daily by travelers, families including officials of the Liberian government. As we all know the air transport industry plays a major role in global economic activity and development that can only be achieved holistically if everyone is safe.

Furthermore, if ICAO’s role is to improve the safety of the global air transport system as their guiding and most fundamental strategic objective then it is about time that they focus on the many red flags and safety issues at the Roberts International Airport of Liberia. After reading some of the most recent scary instances and experiences of safety issues at the RIA; I solely believe that your organization will work constantly to address and enhance global aviation safety through coordinated activities and targets outlined in its Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP). It is nice to know that the purpose of the GASP is to continually reduce fatalities, and the risk of fatalities, by guiding the development of a harmonized aviation safety strategy, regional aviation safety plans and national aviation safety plans. 

Not to bore you with all the unsafe instances, situations, personal experiences, and hazardous conditions at the RIA since you might already be aware of most, I would like to bring your attention to three most recent safety issues and my personal experience as well.

Situation #1: On February 21, 2022, “Royal Air Maroc Aborts Landing at RIA due to Dark Runway. A Royal Air Maroc flight which was scheduled to land at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) at 4 am on Sunday was forced to abort the landing due to dark runway at the RIA. As the plane was descending, the runway lights went off, forcing the plane to turn back. Those on the flight were dropped in Sierra Leone and many were forced to come to Monrovia by road”. More information on this situation is found at https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/liberia-royal-air-maroc-aborts-landing-at-ria-due-to-dark-runway/. This hazardous safety condition has caused the airline to cancel their flights from going to Liberia.

Situation #2: On Wednesday April 27, 2022, it was known that “SN Brussels, one of the most consistent airlines flying from Europe to Monrovia aborted landing at RIA due to Dark Runway. The plane rerouted to Freetown, Sierra Leone on Low Jet Fuel, when the plane, after descending sufficiently to touch ground, suddenly aborted landing at the Roberts International Airport due to power outage at the airport and on the runway. More information on this situation is found at https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/liberia-sn-brussels-aborts-landing-at-ria-due-to-dark-runway-diverts-to-sierra-leone-on-low-jet-fuel/. There is no doubt that these scary situations caused panic among passengers on board and delayed passengers at the RIA who were waiting to board the flight from Liberia and other countries.

Situation #3: “President George Weah who returned home from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday, March 28, was received by an array of government officials in “darkness” at the Robert International Airport (RIA). Youth and Sports Minister Zoegar Wilson who could not deny or confirm the report said the electricity at RIA went off 30 minutes prior to the President’s arrival apparently due to power failure. He said he and other cabinet ministers including Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah were sitting in the Very-Important-Persons (VIP) lounge when the power went off”. More information on this situation is found at https://www.inquirernewspaper.com/ria-welcomes-weah-in-darkness/.

Situation #4 (My Personal Experience): I arrived in Liberia on 3/18/2022 via SN Brussels and the plane didn’t land on time. It was rerouted in the air for 35 mins due to fire at the Roberts International Airport. For all of us on that flight, it was a traumatic experience. Anyway, God was gracious during our scary experience.

It is my deep hope that after your thorough and swift investigations and taking actions to prevent and protect innocent lives, the RIA management will do better because all of us innocent lives including yours are involved. The blame games at the RIA need to stop if good governance is about CHANGE. Liberia is a small country and as such every catastrophic is a major setback for us and the country. After 14 years of bloody civil war, we cannot afford to experience another deadly plane crash. The airport management cannot continue to endanger the lives of everyone, remain tightlipped, and ignore safety issues only because they do not want to scare away past, present, and potential airlines from coming to Liberia. If we are to uphold human dignity then where lives are threatened, swift actions must take precedence over everything. There is only one LIFE to live.

Thank you so much for your understanding and I look forward to hearing from you and seeing that the issues of safety have been addressed and prioritized at the Liberia’s Roberts International Airport in Monrovia, Liberia. Like my famous quote, “Mistakes are inevitable in aviation, especially when one is still learning new things. The trick is to not make the mistakes that will kill you”. It is about time that the lives and dignity of the Liberian people and visitors are prioritized.

Sincerely,

Massa Dopoh, Licensed Master Social Worker

“Avoid a Mourning, Acknowledge a Warning”

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