Africa: Liberian Senator raises alarm over Aviation safety issue at Roberts International Airport as private jet lands without airfield lighting


A Liberian Senator, Edwin Snowe has called the attention of the Senate to a safety related incident at the Roberts International Airport, following the landing of a private jet at the airport without the aid of airfield lighting.

According to, Senator Edwin Snowe says he along with two senior officials of ruling Coalition for Democratic Change Government including Finance minister Smauel Tweah and Mr. Nathaniel McGill Minister of State for Presidential Affairs had to risk their lives to land in a private plane on the runway of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) without lights.

According to Snowe, moments to their landing at the RIA, they were informed by the pilot and the co-pilot that there was power outage at the airport and they had to risk their lives to land on the airstrip without lights on the runway.

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“There was nothing we could do, we already left Accra as God would have it, it was few minutes to seven, it was getting dark. Tweah and McGill were frightened; thank God the pilots were very experienced. This is troubling news for our country that the only international airport runway is without lights,” Snowe said.

Similar problem in 2017
In 2017 The Liberia Civil Aviation Authority announced that the runway lights, technically used for aircraft safe landing and take-off at night became unserviceable at the Roberts International Airport.

In an effort to restore the situation to normality, the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA), which has regulatory oversight for the industry – immediately stepped in, arranged, negotiated and brought into the country an ACE expert from the Ghana Airport Company, Ltd (GAC) with the appropriate equipment to assist in repairing the lighting system.

In that same year Brussels Airlines changed its SN241/01FEB flight schedule due to poor lighting on the runway at the Roberts International Airport.

“We regret to inform you that we are forced to adapt the schedule of your flight SN241/01FEB due to runway lights failure at Monrovia your flight will now operate as sn1241/01FEB, leaving Brussels at 10:35 and arriving Monrovia at 16:10 we apologize for this inconvenience outside our control. Thank you for flying Brussels Airlines,” Brussels Airlines said in an SMS sent out to its passengers.

But Liberia Airport Authority termed as technical fault the poor lighting on the runway.

Liberia New terminal
The New Passenger Terminal and the LAA Office Complex were started in 2017 a season part of plans to modernize infrastructure at RIA. The Passenger Terminal process approximately 350,000 to 500,000 Passengers annually, the LAA release noted.

The terminal has two jet bridges, two escalators, two elevators, ten check-in counters, two baggage carousels, a large immigration facility, a water treatment plant and a power substation on the outside. It also has a tow gate car park and several other features in the courtyard.

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For the office complex, it is hosted the administrative and operational functions of the Airport Authority and has in its conference and board rooms, offices and commercial center for airlines, banks and GSM companies. The office complex was birthed out of the debris of the old terminal that was burned during the civil war.

Also, as part of the RIA Modernization and Expansion Project, the runway was fully resurfaced with cutting edge aviation technology that facilitates the smooth landing and departure of flights.

Roberts International Airport (RIA) is the sole international airport in Liberia, West Africa. The airport is located near the town of Harbel, 35 miles from the capital of Monrovia. The airport is also known as Robertsfield, as it is named after Liberia’s first president, Joseph Jenkins Roberts.

RIA is owned by the Government of the Republic of Liberia and is operated by a Liberian management unit. RIA was originally built by the US Government as a base during the Second World War. On 14 July 1941, the Liberian Government came to an agreement with Pan American Airways (PAN AM) to convert RIA into a civil and commercial airport.

In 1985, the Liberian Government took control of the airport after PAN AM renounced and surrendered the ownership a year earlier. The government has been running the airport since then.

RIA suffered severe damage during the civil war in Liberia in 1990. The runway was bombed and the main terminal building burned down. Both the runway and the terminal building became inoperable and the airport was shut down. Commercial operations at the airport started again in 1997 by converting a cargo building to a terminal.

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