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US$10M unaccounted for at RIA

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaThe Liberian Senate has summoned the senior managerial team at the Roberts International Airport to account for US$10 Million allotted in the National Budget for the upkeep of airport. 

But appearing before the Senate Committee on Aviation in the Senate’s Conference Room at the Capitol Building, the RIA Management, headed by Transport Minister, Madam Angela Cassell Bush; Deputy General Manager for Technical Services, Madam Paula Harvey; and Comptroller General, Jacob Corneh, denied having access to the allotment.

The money in question, which was allocated in the 2013-14 National Budget through the Ministry of Transport, was intended to renovate the RIA runway. However, up to now, the project is yet to kick off.

Addressing members of the committee Monday, Minister Bush said her Ministry does not interfere with expenditure at RIA or the National Aviation Authority, but only provides supervisory role.

Adding her voice to the debate, Madam Palua Harvey said, during the disbursement of the funds, she was suspended and under investigation by the management headed at the time by Madam Ellen Corkrum, indicted by the Government of Liberia for alleged corruption.

Madam Corkrum, an American citizen, currently resides in the United States.

Apparently making matters worse, Comptroller General Corneh said as chief financial expert, he did not know whether the RIA Management had allotment in the National Budget, suggesting that he had no knowledge on how the money was expended.

Speaking further, Madam Harvey said the RIA in deplorable condition, warning that if nothing were done in the soonest possible time, Liberia could face some punishment from the World Aviation Authority.

When asked what is needed to change the situation around for the better, Harvey said the current Management at the airport needs about US$60 Million for rehabilitation exercise. 

“Our airport is not to undergo renovation, instead rehabilitation. The entire airport needs to be reconstructed to say the least”, Madam Harvey said.

Meanwhile, the committee has promised to submit its findings to Plenary of the Senate for the next course of action.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor

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