The nine hundred kilometer Tappita Airstrip in Lower Nimba County was on Saturday, March 19 was officially opened after rehabilitation by Samaritan Purse in collaboration with the county administration.
According to the Country Director of Samaritan Purse, Kendell Kauffeldt, the purpose for the rehabilitation is to support the Jackson F. Doe Referral Hospital in Tappita by making transportation of patients and medical supplies less difficult.
He thanked the government for the partnership in steering the development agenda of the country and also all those who made the rehabilitation work successful.
Those attending the occasion included former President Pro-tempore Gbehzongar Findley and Nimba County Superintendent Fong Zuagele, Mr. Harry Yuan among several other prominent Nimbaians.
Mr. Finley on behalf of the Liberia Aviation Authority (LAA) praised Samaritan Purse and the Nimba County authorities for rehabilitating the airstrip. He urged the residents of Tappita to engage in hotel businesses so as to host visiting patients and travelers.
He said, “Many people will be traveling to Tappita, especially from the southeastern region to get treatment from the hospital, so it is important to have somewhere they will be able to rest for the time.”
“This airstrip will ease the transportation problems, which always occur on the road during the rainy season,” said Mr. Will Bako Freeman, General Manager, LAA.
He said the LAA will soon set up a management team to look after the airstrip.
However, Superintendent Zuagele called on Tappita residents to desist from taking their authority to court action and embrace development. He said one of the challenges the county administration is facing is a court action that came from the citizens of Tappita.
The Supreme Court last year issued a writ of prohibition against the opening of streets or alleys in Tappita, due to the action by some Tappita citizens.
Mr. Harry Yuan, one of the prominent sons of Tappita, also commended the county authority, including the Legislative Caucus for working with partners to get the airstrip rehabilitated, amid numerous challenges, including the court action.
At the ribbon cutting, Samaritan Purse turned over the airstrip to the Liberia Aviation Authority, who later turned it over to the Board Chair Gbehzongar Findley, who then handed it over to Superintendent Zuagele.
“This airstrip can host about four or five aircrafts at the same time,” said one of the engineers.
Despite the rehabilitation, the airstrip does not have any terminal for passengers or any control mechanism to coordinate air traffic.