LIBERIA: China-Aid RIA Expansion Project To Boost Liberia’s Economy

By January 2019, with the aid of China, the Roberts International Airport (RIA) and its expansion project will be completed, equipped with an ultramodern terminal and attending facilities.

The refurbished state-of-the-art RIA will then be set to boost Liberia’s economic development through the handling of local and international air traffics.

Informally referred to as ‘Roberts Field,’ the RIA was constructed in 1942 when Liberia signed a Defense Pact with the United States, commencing a period of strategic road building and other construction related to US military interests in checking the expansion of the Axis power.

It was built originally by the US government as an Air Force base with a runway long enough for B-47 Stratojet bombers to land for refuelling, giving Liberia what was for many years the longest runway in Africa.

But given the urgency to place Liberia on par with other nations in Africa and the world at large as well as to make the nation’s singular international air traffic gateway an acclaimed one, the Government of Liberia and the People’s Republic of China in September 2016 signed a US$50 million framework agreement to upgrade and expand the RIA.

China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Limited, the company in charge of the project at RIA, has assured that the level of work done by the company on the expansion and upgrade is up to international standard, emphasizing that with the due-date of the project in sight, all is now set for unveiling a master class architectural framework that will bring economic prosperity to Liberia.

CHEC Project Manager Zheng Yuhe told the Liberia News Agency during a site visit at the RIA that the project construction scope mainly includes an international terminal with an area of 5070 square meters, a 1.1-kilometer service road for the airport, 1,500 square meters parking lot and affiliated intelligent management systems.

The RIA, according to Zheng, is equipped with two boarding bridges, substation, pump station and fence. It also has intelligent light, power monitors, fire alarm control, and intelligent water supply regulation systems.

Additionally, Zheng told LINA that the RIA is fortified with CCTV, access control system, and central air-conditioning control system. It also contains backup electricity, communication and water disposal systems.

The terminal building design, Zheng said, adopts steel structure system and uses energy-saving glass curtain for its exterior façade. Components of the energy-saving glass curtain, he said, can be pre-processed and shop-assembled to meet the energy-saving requirements.

Speaking further on the accommodative and convenient nature that the RIA now embodies, the CHEC Project Manager noted that the modern RIA check-in hall and other facilities in the terminal will create a homelike atmosphere for passengers.

After tickets and baggage check-in, and attending custom and security inspection checks, Zheng said passengers will be able to take the escalator or elevator to the departure level, while following security inspection, passengers can also go to the corresponding lounge in accordance with the boarding gate as indicated.

“RIA will be a wonderful gateway to Liberia. A gateway built by China Harbour Engineering Company that will encourage and enable millions to experience a fantastic terminal,” Zheng noted.

The project, he indicated, will greatly enhance the capacity of RIA and help it to regain the role of aviation hub in West Africa, noting that it will boost the comprehensive competitiveness of Liberia in West Africa and the whole Continent.

Established in the 1980s as a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) Limited, CHEC, a Global Fortune 500 company, explores the overseas market on behalf of CCCC.

Currently, CHEC has more than 90 branches and representative offices in over 100 countries and regions, while the company has more than 15,000 employees undertaking hundreds of international projects whose total contract amount is over US$30 billion.

LINA

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About Cholo Brooks 13761 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.