Liberia: What It Takes to Fix RIA — and Liberia
It is the considered opinion by many Liberians, including especially some top officials in the public sector that Liberia today is in a total mess. One of the tangible examples of this is the terribly mismanaged Roberts International Airport (RIA), which we all know is Africa’s first truly certified international airport.
Remember, it was this airport, created in the mid-1940s as “Robertsfield,” that served as the transatlantic base for the American Air Force during World War II. This clearly tells us that this our great airport has a lot of history behind it and cannot, must not, be taken lightly.
But there are some, including our own dear President, who think otherwise. Remember, too, it was only recently that the President, His Excellency Mr. Weah, nominated an inexperienced individual as managing director of RIA, in the person of Mr. Darlington Karnley. Many have protested and are still protesting, awaiting the President’s final decision.
Meanwhile, Mr. Martin Hayes, Deputy for Administration, is now serving as Acting Managing Director. The Brewerville-born Mr. Hayes, who boasts 16 years of experience in the Aviation sector, has served at RIA as Chief of Intelligence, Deputy Director for Operations and Assistant Manager.
Let us ever remember that Liberia is Africa’s oldest independent republic and must behave as such in all our appointments and actions. All of our decisions and undertakings must reflect this reality.
And so as we await the President’s appointment of a new, highly competent RIA Managing Director, we pray that that individual must first and foremost be a person of unquestionable integrity; must possess a very high degree of management experience and skill; and be one who knows about aviation or is willing to learn quickly about this important field of national and international endeavor.
As has been earlier said, the new Head of RIA must come to this position knowing that Roberts International Airport is the oldest one in Independent Africa. Robertsfield, later named RIA, was in existence long before Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah created the Accra Airport, which became the first international airport in independent Africa besides Liberia’s RIA. Remember, too, that it was at the Accra Airport that all the planes landed, bringing African leaders to the first Conference of African Heads of State and Government in 1959, hosted by Ghanaian Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah.
Our airport, RIA, must, therefore, be A-1, second to none in Africa. And why not? We have the land space for it — vast acreage stretching from Unification Town to Charlesville, Margibi County. There is enough land space there to create one of the largest and most modern airports in Africa. We owe it to ourselves to do this, since we are Africa’s oldest independent Republic.
But in creating such a great, dynamic airport, we should ensure that it is based on an equally dynamic economy—one that will attract serious and well financed travelers and investors, who will help us build a modern, enviable economy.
In order to do that, we must have good, mature, modern, dynamic and visionary leadership — leadership that will compel and demand the respect, admiration and love of the entire world. If we do not have it now, then let us strive to get it! We are not here to condemn or dismiss anybody. We strongly believe in the capacity of any human being to rise up to the challenge at hand.
And who says President George Weah cannot do it? YES, he can! All he needs is the will power, determination to surround himself with people with patriotism — people who truly LOVE Liberia, people with determination, vision and the willingness to transform Liberia into a land of creativity, energy and hard work; people who are willing to tackle their brains and roll up their sleeves to get the job done — the job of transforming Liberia into a creative, dynamic, strong, and enduring powerhouse whose people believe that nothing is impossible for Liberia, but rather, that with the God of nations before and behind, anything is possible for us.
Let us therefore put on our thinking caps, engage our minds and develop our spiritual resolve to go forward and lift Liberia in every direction — spiritually, educationally, socially, politically — on a pedestal that will compel the admiration, love, cooperation, respect and support of all mankind!