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Editorial: The RIA: Another Challenging Matter For the House of Reps

Recently, the Roberts International Airport or RIA in Margibi County was the focus of attention in almost all of the news media in Liberia. At the core of the news was the very poor management of the AIR by its American Managing Director, Mr. James Banks since taking over a few years back. It followed a number of concerns raised by several Liberians and visitors, as well as some members of the Liberian Legislature, including the “life-threatening”.

Condition of the Airport’s run-way, uncomfortable departure lunch, as well as the unfortunate situations encountered upon arrival, among others. A few members of the House of Representatives wondered in one of their sessions at the Capitol as to how a Liberian International airport can be managed by an American under such a deplorable condition when the Liberian Government was dishing out a very huge cash to him, including a salary of US$50, 000.00 per month..

Such  eye-brow-raising concerns may have  prompted the House’s Plenary to invite the American Managing Director of the RIA to show cause as to why should Liberia’s one and only international airport be treated in so such a scaring and discouraging manner.

Unfortunately, Mr. James Banks could not honor the House’s invitation because, according to him, he was ill, perhaps the fear of what he thought would have been a very sour encounter with members of the House of Representatives may have resulted to his “ailment”. However, there’s still hope for the appearance shortly of Mr. Banks, the American Boss of the RIA before the House’s Plenary for explanation on the deplorable condition of our international airport.

Meantime, why such a meeting is awaited, it must also be emphasized that the terms under which Mr. Banks and his “Company” undertook the management of the RIA must be revisited just as the call for the renegotiation of the ten oil contracts by the House of Representatives is being advanced. Perhaps it is the selfish nature and reciprocal tone of the agreement by the negotiating parties that have got ‘Roberts’ being run the way it is.

Mr. Banks and his company are very cognizant of the fact that what they are doing to Liberia can never be done to the United States of America. For even a pure Liberian to manage a domestic airport in America is quite impossible, least to say to make such a very, very huge salary with all other benefits attached.

What was the Government of Liberia even thinking about when it negotiated and awarded such a contract? What did Mr. Banks and his “company” do so much for Liberia that the government would knowingly choose to place another gate way to our economy in their hands? Did the Government of Liberia recognize or ignore the security implications of having a foreigner managing its international airport?

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Besides the few Lawmakers who raised the alarm, are the President of Liberia and her chief ministers and advisors not aware of the bad shape of the run way and compound of the RIA? What has actually been the fear of “putting the American RIA Managing Director in his place” for poorly running the airport?

These are, but a few of the many questions to which Liberians demand answers because when there is poor revenue intake or none at all at the RIA as a result of the departure of the major airlines, it is the silent majority who bear the weight.

And as Representatives of the people of Liberia, the lawmakers are under obligation now to ensure that whatever contract whosoever entered into with Banks and his “company” be revisited in accordance with the laws of Liberia and not as the oil contracts were negotiated.

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