Zwedru Airstrip Abandoned, Under Threat

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The landscape of the Zwedru's airstrip, which is considered the biggest outside Monrovia.

The perimeter of the airstrip near Zwedru City in Grand Gedeh County has reportedly been threatened by those illegally encroaching on the land with rock mining and erecting new housing units in the vicinity.

Zwedru City Mayor Cecelia Jolo informed the Daily Observer recently that some of the residents are continuously in the habit of encroaching on the land by constructing houses and carrying on rock mining in the vicinity of facility.

She said everyday, some of the residents are in the habit of sweeping away the gravel protecting the surface of the airstrip to construct their private homes.

“The people continue to encroach on the land by farming, planting cash crops, and even carrying on construction of houses within the airstrip perimeter,” Madam Jolo said.

Zwedru Airstrip is believed to be one of the largest airstrips outside of Monrovia.

City Mayor Jolo, who worked as an aviation officer at the airstrip under UNMIL, said the 4550 feet-long airstrip has been threatened by unscrupulous residents. She therefore called on the government to make quick intervention to avoid the facility going to ruin.

During the Chiefs and Elders Council meeting, in February, 2014, which brought together chiefs from neighboring La Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia, Ivorien President Allasane Quattara landed on the airfield with his mini jet to join former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the conference.

President Ouattara and other top Côte d’Ivoire officials, including Ambassador Kapieletien Soro at the the time urged the Ivoiren refugees in the region to return home, reiterating that peace and stability had been restored to their country.

UNHCR organized “go-and-see” missions, during which refugees visited La Côte d’Ivoire to see the conditions back home. “Come-and-tell” missions were also organized for former refugees to visit Liberia and inform refugees about peace, reconciliation and reconstruction efforts back home.

The Zwedru’s airstrip was used extensively by peacekeepers assigned with the then United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in personnel and equipment movement.

The lack of active domestic aviation activity in the country has left several of the airstrips outside Monrovia in ruin, with most of the land being encroached upon with illegal structures.

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