Politics News

Ellen dedicates RIA terminal, runway

President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf has dedicated a passenger terminal and a runway to the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County, expressing gratitude to her Chinese counterpart Mr. Xi Jinping and his government for giving the go – ahead for Liberia to get the credit needed for the projects.

“…But we have good friends, good partners, partners willing to demonstrate confidence in the future of Liberia. China, is one of those good friends. And it started with the Ambassador here,” Mrs. Sirleaf said Monday, 18 December at the RIA.

During the dedications, Mrs. Sirleaf said the terminal was a major undertaking and gave recognition to several individuals and institutions for their respective roles. She recognizes former Chinese Ambassador to Liberia Lin Songtian who made a big push to get China’s Exim Bank to agree to come and do the analysis to ensure that Liberia was in the position to take the credit and to be able to service the credit over time, thereby meeting the terms and conditions.

She recalls that the entire negotiation started when she made a state visit to China and told her Chinese counterpart Mr. Xi Jinping that [the airport] was one thing that Liberia wanted China to do “because we didn’t think it could be done by any other partner.”

Upon her return to Liberia, Mrs. Sirleaf says the Chinese Ambassador to Liberia told her that Mr. Xi had said there would be a harvest, with assurance from the Ambassador that she can count on China’s speed and quality in the work on the airport, Ministerial Complex and Annexes to the Legislature projects.

She also recognizes the efforts of all of those that helped including Liberia’s Ministry of Public Works for taking hours and hours meeting the conditions. She says there are so many times new things are started here and then they are finished because “we don’t have the strong will power to be able to stay the course to be able to do what is required to meet those conditions for moving forward.”

“In this case, we do have the result of all, that all of you, several of you sitting in the tank there have made this possible,” she says.

Mrs. Sirleaf says her looked at the other needs of the country including schools, hospitals, meeting payroll on time continuously, roads, power and water and therefore made the decision to postpone the development of RIA after assuming leadership in 2006.

She indicates that government had the thought that such postponement would have been perhaps around four years after which it would have turned to working around the airport, with no anticipation that the country would have faced shocks that would have further postponed the work at the airport.

Prior to dedicating the new passenger terminal, Mrs. Sirleaf dedicated the runway. Following the dedication of the two projects, she later visited the worksite to the ongoing construction of the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.

At the dedications, Chinese Ambassador to Liberia Mr. Zhang Yue extends warm congratulations on the completion of the renovation of the runway and the roof – capping of the new terminal building of the RIA renovation and expansion project, Ministerial Complex and annexes to the Legislature.

Mr. Yue says the airport projects are a typical example of efficient cooperation and collaboration among governments, financers and contractors and supervisors in the process of approval and implementation of a project. “All these projects have laid a big milestone marking the friendship and cooperative relationship between China and Liberia,” he says.

Liberia Airport Authority Managing Director Mr. Wil Bako Freeman says the terminal building will be a significant boost to Liberia’s pre-war status as a regional hub for West Africa and destination of trust for travelers.

He gives special recognition and thanks to China Harbor for its tremendous work, time and effort in building the terminal, and expresses deep appreciation for the level of organization and execution of the project.

Liberia Airport Authority Board Chair Gbehzongar Findley says work at the terminal would not have been done today had President not made a visit to China, thanking her for the new terminal building, new runway, new office space and a new hotel. He says the new terminal building will enhance the aviation sector of Liberia as a gateway as the nation can now be proud of an entry point.

By Winston W. Parley

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