The U.S. Government has provided $836,000 USD to the Government of Liberia to purchase key equipment to improve operations at Roberts International Airport (RIA).
The new equipment, purchased by Liberian authorities through funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), includes an aircraft tow tractor, a runway sweeper, with a rotary sweeper, a potable water service truck, a lavatory service truck and covered passenger air stairs. The finance package also includes funds to train airport ground crews on how to operate the equipment.
This is the latest in a series of measures demonstrating the U.S. Government's commitment to working with the Government of Liberia to further enhance RIA operations.
At a ceremony December 31 to mark the installation of the new equipment at the airport, Charge' d'Affaires Karl P. Albrecht highlighted how the U.S.-funded equipment has already helped to attract more tourists and airlines to Liberia.
"These efforts are aimed at helping the airport meet international standards, which attract additional international airlines. The new equipment increases airline safety and improves ground operation services, making RIA a better value for airlines. Without a doubt these improvements have contributed to recent establishment of direct connections to cities like London and New York."
He reaffirmed the U.S. Government's commitment to the Government of the Republic of Liberia in the economic development of the nation. "There is still much to do, so we urge all stakeholders to continue to work together to improve the transportation sector," he said.
Since 2008, the U.S. Government, through USAID, has provided the Government of Liberia with more than $4 million USD of emergency equipment for RIA including, among other critical items: a firefighting truck; a rapid intervention vehicle, two portable firefighting pumps, an ambulance, two portable generators, two power generators, an automatic transfer switch, a synchronizing system and a power transformer.
In addition to providing equipment critical to daily airport operations, the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has also provided approximately $400,000 USD worth of training to RIA airport staff. This technical assistance was provided as part of a program called the Aviation Security Sustainable International Standards Team (ASSIST).
Liberia is only the second country to benefit from an ASSIST program, following a pilot program in St. Lucia. The U.S. Government is working with the Government of Liberia to complete a framework through which RIA employees may receive more technical assistance and capacity building training in the future.
The U.S. Government has also provided technical assistance to improve financial operations at RIA to accelerate the documentation and testing of internal controls, to enhance automated accounting systems, and to build staff capacity to sustain the financial systems in place.