Several months ago, following an exclusive interview with Mr. Bako Freeman, Managing Director of the Roberts International Airport (RIA), the Daily Observer broke the news that Liberia was to get a brand new modern terminal costing US$50 million.
Mr. Freeman said the project was being financed by a US$50 million loan from China’s Exim Bank.
It all came into fruition on Monday, October 3, when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Chinese Ambassador Zang Yue participated in the unveiling of a design which, for the first time, will give Liberia a new modern international airport terminal.
We pray that RIA MD Mr. Freeman will keep his promise made at the time of the interview that the Liberian people will see the new terminal design before construction begins so they will be able to know and appreciate this brand new development on the national landscape.
During Tuesday’s signing ceremony, Ambassador Zang expressed confidence that the new terminal will be something Liberians will be proud of. He made a remark that elated everyone in the Cabinet Room where the signing took place; everyone, including President Sirleaf. The Ambassador said: “Something good is coming to Liberia in two months.”
The President, in her brief remarks on the occasion, told the Cabinet Room audience with pride, gratitude and happiness that she believed part of the “something good” to which Ambassador Zang referred was the commencement, at last, of construction on the Ministerial Complex that they pledged to build for Liberia over a year ago.
We hope for three things in this new RIA Terminal: first, that it will truly be a modern one, giving Liberia, at long last, a truly admirable international airport of which Liberians, our West Africa neighbors and all international travelers using it, will be appreciative and proud.
We secondly hope that the new runway, which is simultaneously being built, will be efficiently done to accommodate some of the world’s most advanced aircrafts, including the Boeing 747 and 767 jets and Airbus. This will definitely attract more regional and international airlines here, just as it was in the 1960s through the 1980s, and even more.
Our third hope has to do with lighting. We hope and pray that lighting in and around the airport vicinity will be sufficient, so that passengers, during landing, will see a glittering surrounding, not the scary darkness that has always made people think they are entering a dense forest.
In order to enhance the glitter, of course, we hope the government can invite some international hotel chain to build a five-star hotel somewhere around the airport that will use the Du, Farmington and Marshall Rivers emptying into the Atlantic Ocean for tourism.
It would be good for government, too, to attract real estate developers to use the RIA highway and the Charlesville community for modern housing complexes. This will enhance the lighting and modernity around RIA.
Bako Freeman and his team, in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the National Investment Commission (NIC), should start engaging Liberian entrepreneurs and other interested parties now to install their restaurants, coffee shops and shopping complexes within the new terminal, selling arts and crafts, clothing, cosmetics, computers and electronic devices, fragrances, GSM equipment and software, footwear, liquor, etc.
We highly commend President Sirleaf for the strong friendship she and her government have cultivated with the Chinese that has during her tenure enabled them to do so much for Liberia. A good part of this is in the extensive educational opportunities they have given to many Liberian students in various professional fields.
Appreciation is due the Chinese government and people for all they have done to help Liberia. The two governments have sown the seeds of lasting friendship, which we know will bear greater fruit in the years ahead. We hope our Chinese friends will help Liberians to cultivate the enduring capacity for self-reliance that has made the Chinese nation and people what they have become—a mighty force to be reckoned with in every part of the world.