Construction and rehabilitation works on the runway of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) is said to be nearing completion while work toward the construction of a new state-of-the-art terminal is well on course, according to the Roberts International Airport Management.
On a guided tour on Friday with a team of reporters, Mr. Wendell Reeves an Airport Engineer said the terminal under construction will be state of the art, comparable to those in developed countries
Work on both projects is being implemented by the China Harbor and Sino Hydro.
The architectural structure of the terminal according to engineers will be glass and steel and facilities in the terminal would include; Escalator and elevators.
The terminal project is a two story building including the ground floor for passenger arrival and departure with two passenger's bridges that connect the terminal.
“This is state of the art. What it will do is that family members will see their families out, there will be waiting areas, restaurants, cafés, and it will be a state of the art building”, Reeves said.
Explaining to reporters about the rehabilitated runway Wendell said, the project on the eleven thousand feet runway was to remove the old asphalt pavement and replace it with new pavement that would be suitable for all sizes of the plane and would be durable.
He said, the project implementation also include changing the current lighting on the runway.
“At this point of this project, we are about 85% completed so at this point we are in the final touches at the end of the month. All engineer aspect is based on international standards.”
He hopes that by December of 2017 the project will be completed and dedicated.
“There are sizes of the plane the biggest plane which is the 380 is the only exception that cannot land here but another plane can land here,” he added.
Mr. Wil Bako Freeman, Managing Director of the Liberia Air Port Authority in a chat with reporters said, the project is receiving the needed support from all major players including the Ministry of Finance and that major partners who include Airlines flying to Liberia are happy with the level of work.
Freeman told the team of reporters that his dream is to see an airport city that will have everything a modern Airport requires and has disclosed that part of his priorities is to encourage domestic travels by encouraging investors to take advantage of the sector.
Since last November when Sirleaf broke ground for a new passenger terminal building and a rehabilitated runaway at the RIA, anticipation has been high that the ground which has been on the receiving of a lot of jokes from incoming passengers could soon be getting the last laugh.
This was evident even for Sirleaf last November when she marvelled at the prospects.
“I'm so glad that finally, we can get our airport up to standard, finally that shame – we do feel shame when we land at the airport, we feel shame because we have strangers in the plane, and they all look and say ‘Oh! My goodness, when will Liberia come of age.”
The RIA is the country's principal international airport and hosts international carriers on an 11, 000-foot (3, 353m) runway and other facilities.
Built during the height of the Second World War by the United States Government, the RIA served as a base for its military activities.
After the war and until 1985, the airport was administered by Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) and was a key link in the African network of Pan Am.
When Pan Am ceased operations, the government of Liberia assumed responsibilities for the operations of the airport.
The airport suffered severe damage during the civil war in 1990.
The runway was bombed and the main terminal building burned down.
Both the runway and the terminal building became inoperable and the airport was shut down.
Commercial operations at the airport started again in 1997 by converting a cargo building to a terminal.
Starring down a barrage of criticisms, the government of Liberia has China to thank for the transformation now taking place.
The US$50 million terminal project is being financed by China's Exim Bank through a concessional loan.
While the reported US$30 million runway is being funded through a loan from the Saudi Fund, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the Liberian government with support from the United States Government.