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$11M RIA Hotel Underway

The Liberian Government has estimated US$11 Million as cost for the construction of a five star hotel at the Roberts International Airport or RIA, a lease contract being undertaken by the Abi Jaoudi Corporation.

Making the disclosure at the Information Ministry on Thursday, Transport Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe said President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was determined to dedicate a modern airport by 2015 before the end of her presidential term.

Minister Nagbe recalled that since the construction of the RIA about 73 years ago, there has been no major rehabilitation apart from the expansion of the Runway from 9000ft to 11000ft, as well as the construction of the now devastated terminal constructed in 1978 in preparation for the 1979 Organization of African Union (OAU) Summit in Monrovia.

Minister Nagbe said the need for a full rehabilitation of the airport was clearly apparent, noting that in keeping with international best practice in the aviation industry, a comprehensive assessment of all facets of the airport was needed.

He said the Liberian Government commissioned a Dutch Firm called NACO, previously hired by the World Bank in 2005 to perform a full technical assessment and produce a master plan for the redevelopment of RIA.

“The master plan for the RIA has already been completed, and the redevelopment of the RIA as a national priority project was now on an irreversible course,” said Minister Nagbe.

In a related development, Minister Nagbe has denied reports that the RIA Hotel contract was awarded to Abi Jaoudi Corporation, following a phone call by a sister of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s.

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“This is far from the truth,” he said, detailing that in February 2008, the Management of the RIA instituted an International Comprehensive Bidding (ICB) process.

In the ICB process, Minister Nagbe, noted, the management advertised a request for an interest (Expression of Interest-EOI)) in the Daily Observer, Inquirer and News Newspapers with the submission date of March 24, 2008 for interested investors to participate.

Having received and evaluated EOIs from Companies such as Ola Kleen, Bashir Brothers, Abi Jaoudi, La Cour and Krystal Ocean View Hotel on March 24 that year by the RIA procurement committee, according to him, the RIA Management shortlisted and communicated with three of the bidders on April 11, 2008 for detail plans and drawings.

However, he said, the evaluation process was temporarily suspended pending the Liberian Government’s conclusion on negotiation with Lockdheed Martin.

But he said when the Lockheed RIA Management requested the bidders to submit a business plan, including a forecast, construction cost and a validity period, only La Cour and Abi Jaoudi responded.

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