Home Economy Security Risks At RIA…U.S Embassy Warns American Travelers……….

Security Risks At RIA…U.S Embassy Warns American Travelers……….

by newsmanager

By: H. Richard Fallah

MONROVIA: The United States Embassy accredited near Monrovia has warned American citizens contemplating air travel into or out of Liberia through the Roberts International Airport (RIA), to take note of the significant shortcomings in airport Safety, Security, and operational standards.

In a security alert, dated February 2, 2023, on its official website, the U.S Embassy near Monrovia says, they are aware that the RIA, the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), and the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) have begun steps to address these shortcomings in recent months but warned that citizens traveling through said route must be aware of the risks involved.
“The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia is aware of several recent audits of the Roberts International Airport (RIA), all of which have revealed significant shortcomings in airport Safety, Security, and operational standards”, the U.S embassy noted.
The Embassy said, it is not aware that airlines have reduced operating schedules to RIA in response to these audit findings, promising to update the public should there be information on such plans.
“Citizens thinking of traveling in or out of Liberia through its only international airport (RIA) should be aware that few, if any, of these shortcomings have been adequately resolved to date, and that several airport safety, security, and emergency response capabilities remain below international standards”, the Embassy cautioned.

The RIA has been in the news on many occasions, not for good reasons, something many analysts say, is troubling for the Liberian nation.

It can be recalled in April 2022, one of the most regular airlines flying from Europe to Monrovia, SN Brussels, had to re-route to neighboring Freetown, Sierra Leone, when the Plane, after descending close to touching the ground, shockingly aborted landing at the RIA due to power outage at the airport and on the runway.
The situation, at the time, caused fear among passengers who were on board and also delayed other passengers at the RIA who were waiting to board the flight.
In a video which circulated hugely on social media, the pilot assigned to the plane was heard announcing to passengers, “I would like to inform you that the airport in Monrovia is closed and there is no electricity at the moment.

They are trying to fix it, but we have some fuel to do a few miles; but until now, we don’t have contact at airport of Monrovia so we have decided to go back to Freetown.

In Freetown, we will see if we can take some fuel and what the decision would be next”.
The flight later returned to the RIA after electricity was restored while causing delay for outbound passengers that were scheduled to take off from the RIA at 8:30pm., rescheduling to 9:30pm and later moved to 10:30pm.
It was not the first incident at the RIA. Another time was in February 2022 with “Royal Air Maroc” being forced to divert its landing to Freetown due to similar reason.

On March 28, 2022, the ‘biggest shock’ happened when President Weah and other top government officials were welcomed amidst darkness upon arrival at the RIA from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where they had gone to participate in the EXPO Dubai 2020.
Just within that time, travelers were again forced to use the torchlights of their various phones to provide visibility in the terminal of the airport.

A video circulating social media at that time, showed some of the travelers complaining by expressing frustration over the they described as a shameful situation while awaiting their respective flights.

The RIA, located near the city of Harbel in Margibi County, is a single runway airport.
It is about 35miles (56kilometer) outside of the Nations Capital, Monrovia. Liberia’s only international airport, constructed by the US-Government is an origin and destination point. It was named in honor of Liberias first President, Joseph Jenkins Roberts.
The airport is the countrys busiest aviation facility, currently hosting the nations only schedule commercial airline services, with direct connections to several major cities in West Africa as well as flights to Europe.
The airport is said to have served approximately 228,000 passengers in 2018 and recently underwent a major expansion, including the opening of a new terminal.
The RIA is a facility with 11,000 feet (3,353 m) long runway was an emergency landing site for the United States Space Shuttle program.

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