Within two months, Liberians will for the first time experience the usage of a modern terminal on home soil as work on the facility nears completion.
A visit at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) Wednesday, 16 January in Margibi County as part of President George Weah’s inspection team saw engineers busy with finishing touches.
Though it looks small from outside, the new terminal has huge space within both arrival and departure halls. Built to an international standard, it is expected to attract other major aircraft once completed and opened.
During the tour President Weah jokingly remarked the popular saying that “the people say the terminal small.” However, authorities say the airport is built in a way that it can be expand from the east and west wings when the need for the expansion arises.
It is expected to be dedicated on 15 March, which might once again put Liberia in a position to give its visiting friends the confidence of gradual development here.
The new terminal is being built courtesy to Liberia’s Chinese counterparts with the aim to boost the public infrastructure in the wake of challenges facing the post – war and Ebola affected West African state.
The new terminal project began in 2017 under former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s regime following the signing of a US$50m loan agreement with China to pay with interest within 25 years.Following a tour Wednesday, President Weah expressed delight over progress made on works at the new RIA Terminal, saying it has everything that an airport needs that have a facelift.
Further, he says today Liberia has a new airport, noting that though some people say it’s very small, but everything is being done possibly to ensure that the people are satisfied.He describes the new airport terminal as a beautiful airport, arguing that if you look at the old terminal and the new one, you can only say glory be to God.
“All of the things you need for [an] airport to have a facelift, we have it now, even though people say it’s small. But if you can’t take care of the smaller things, than you can’t have the bigger things,” he says.
President Weah emphasizes on the level of seriousness that his government has attached to the the new airport terminal, 14 Military Hospital and Ministerial Complex projects in nine months to ensure that when “our friends” come in, they cannot continue to mock the country for lack of development.
Before touring the RIA terminal, President Weah made his first stop at the Ministerial complex also being constructed by the Chinese.Located in Congo Town, the Ministerial Complex is also nearing completion, and it is another project that began under former President Sirleaf’s regime.
“…It’s a facelift and uh, it’s good for the country. So what we’re going to do now is all the agencies that are doing the same work will be able to go in there so we can’t be going to one office to another office,” says President Weah.
He tells journalists that even though some of these projects started during former President Sirleaf’s term, his mandate is to continue the projects that were left behind and create new projects.“It’s a good thing. I’m impressed. You know when, uh, we all, negatively, we were castigating and talking about they breaking the building down (demolished Defense Ministry), and why they can’t continue that building,” he recalls his days in opposition.
However, President Weah admits that those that have the idea to put up new building felt that the demolished Defense Ministry building did not have the strength to maintain what engineers wanted to put there.
He says today “we can see a new” ministerial complex that will compliment even the [overhead] bridges that are due to be constructed by the Chinese.Following the inspection at the Ministerial Complex Mr. Weah also stop at the Military 14 Hospital where construction work there is in an advance stage.
Talking about progress on the 14 Military Hospital for which he broke grounds last year, President Weah says he is very satisfied and impressed that “we’ve gone almost 75 percent”.During the tour Wednesday, it was observed that engineers have constructed the military hospital at roof level.
The one – storey military hospital building will contain over 200 beds and it holds an area of 4000 meter square.Contractors say in six weeks they will complete the roofing of the military hospital, President Weah’s legacy project, and engineers at the RIA new terminal also say the facility will be dedicated on 15 March this year.
President Weah cautions Liberians that when you entrust a leader to a country, then you have to look up to the leader and help him to develop the country.He recalls criticisms on both social and traditional media that nothing was being done on the 14 Military Hospital.
To complement the 14 Military hospital, President Weah says his Chinese counterparts are coming with a diagnostic center that will be the biggest in Africa, the first time in Liberia.
Besides, he says the 14 Military Hospital will train surgeons to prepare for cases of operations that may come about.President Weah was accompanied on the inspection tour by House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, Pro – Tempore Albert Chie, Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan, Minister of State Nathaniel McGill and scores of officials.
Speaker Chambers says the programs are a typical visualization of the reality, saying there is no way that one can say the airport is not growing.Pro – Tempore Chie says on a rotational basis, they will allot money in the budget to train doctors, specialists to augment the manpower of the 14 Military Hospital.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah