The NEWS (Monrovia)

29 January 2013

Liberia to Build Modern Airport

The construction of a modern airport in Liberia has already been envisioned and a new master plan is expected out anytime soon, the Chairman of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Musa Bility, has revealed.

He said the current state of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) will soon be a matter of history.

Mr. Bility disclosed that government has targeted US$163 million for the construction of a new airport in the country.

"This government is determined to build a new airport. We now have a master plan that will soon be out to the public," the LAA Board Chairman asserted.

He explained that government is currently discussing with a Dutch company regarding the building of the new airport.

In furtherance of this determination, Mr. Bility said he and Transport Minister Eugene Nagbe are expected to travel shortly to the Netherlands to inspect some airport facilities in that country.

Talks about building a new airport is not new though, however, the manner in which the LAA Board Chair accentuated the importance of the project underlines the seriousness of the commitment of the Liberian government.

Mr. Bility made the revelation Monday following a tour of the RIA facilities by a team of newspapers Editors and Publishers. During the tour, the Editors were shown ongoing quick impact rehabilitation project, especially work that has been done on the runway, although challenges still remain.

The Editors were taken to the end of the airport's runway which is about 11,000ft (a little over two miles) and 150 ft in width. They were also taken to the terminals, the taxiway and shown important navigational equipment that are useful in directing flights in and out of the country.

The rehabilitation of the airport comes as Liberia braces of a high level international conference of the MDGs that is expected to commence Wednesday. Several world leaders and international guests are expected this week.

During the tour, the General Manager of RIA, Julius Dennis told journalists that the airport in conjunction with the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) are jointly undertaking the emergency repair works at RIA.

He said the LCAA is working with the RIA authority in painting and marking the runway for international flight.

"Currently, we are undertaking emergency repair until at such time when the runway can be fully rehabilitated...but the quick impact project is making huge impact and we are glad to be working with the LCAA which is charged with the responsibility to install some of our navigational equipment at the airport," the RIA General Manager indicated.

Mr. Dennis told the Editors that management of the airport is also gratified for the recent donation of new airport equipment given by USAID.

According to a source, the airport is one of the major institutions of government that contributes immensely to the national budget.

Our source revealed that in 2011, RIA generated US$54 million just from tax on tickets. He believes that the amount generated in 2011 could increase, although the report for 2012 is not out yet.

The source also disclosed that the number of passengers who flew in and out of Liberia was more than 120,000 and this number is expected to increase in the coming years.

The US$54 million generated in 2011 appears to be the reason why government is determined to build a modern airport in Liberia.

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