SINCE PRESIDENT GEORGE MANNEH WEAH broke grounds for a recreational park near the James Spriggs Payne Airport last week, reviews have been mixed about the administration's plan to turn the open space near the airport into a multi-sport facility.
WHEN COMPLETED the facility will include three football fields, two basketball courts, a tennis and volleyball court and four mini-children playground. Adjacent the Park, the President plans to build a sustainable structure for the Peace Women that usually gather for prayers.
WHILE MANY LIBERIANS have embraced the idea of a sports facility, a lot of others are concerned about the location, so closed to only the second paved airport in the country.
THE AIRPORT Located five kilometers from downtown Monrovia, is the primary aviation facility for the capital Monrovia and the entire country, as the the only other paved runway in Liberia and only other international commercial flights into and out of Liberia. The airport is named after James Spriggs Payne, who was president of Liberia in 1868-70 and again in 1876-78.
WHILE THE SPACE has served as a stepping ground for some of the country's gifted footballers, including the current President Weah, over the years, the safety concerns have always been there.
IN FACT, previous governments have on numerous occasions carried out random clearing of the area, asking residents encroaching on or around the space to move in a bid to maintain the space for what it is actually reserved for, aborting planes taking off and landing.
THE SAFETY CONCERNS ARE valid. In fact, the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) are clear.
THE CONVENTION insists that airport runway end safety areas be provided at each end of a runway strip. The standards state hat a runway end safety area shall extend from the end of a runway strip to a distance of at least 90 meters. "If an arresting system is installed, the above length may be reduced, based on the design specification of the system, subject to acceptance by the State."
THE STANDARDS INSISTS that the runway end safety area be as far as practicable and extend from the end of a runway strip to a distance of at least: 240 meters or a reduced length when an arresting system is installed.