The Government of Liberia (GoL) has appointed Mr. Richelieu A. Williams to serve as acting head of the Roberts International Airport(RIA). The RIA is regarded as Liberia’s premier airport. Mr. Williams, who is currently the Director-General of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA), is vastly experienced and would manage the affairs of the RIA for an indefinite period of time.
According to Transport Minister, Eugene Lenn Nagbe, Mr. Williams has been tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the speedy implementation of the ongoing emergency repair works on the runway, taxiway and apron.
He said the LCAA boss is expected to also fabricate and install new navigational aid equipments at the RIA. He made the disclosure Thursday, February 28, 2013 when he addressed the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing held at the Charles Gbenyon Press Hall in Monrovia.
At the same time, Minister Nagbe has disclosed that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has fully endorsed the decision taken by the Board of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) to dismiss Madam Ellen Cockrum as Managing Director of the LAA.
It can be recalled that recently, the LAA Board headed by Mr. Musa Bility dismissed Madam Cockrum for “breaching her contract and causing significant loss of money” to the LAA. Minister Nagbe further disclosed that President Johnson-Sirleaf has instructed the Board of the LAA to take “further actions” against Madam Cockrum.
He pointed out that Madam Cockrum was asked to undertake the implementation of the “Emergency Assessment Report” by NACO when she took over the LAA. NACO is a Dutch firm which was previously hired by the World Bank in 2005 to perform a full technical assessment and produce a master plan for the re-development of the Roberts International Airport (RIA). Amongst others things, the report calls for the urgent implementation of critical repair works on the runway of the airport.
But in carrying out this activity, he explained that the dismissed LAA boss “breached” her contract and caused “significant loss of money” to the LAA
He further explained that the contract of the dismissed LAA boss was terminated by the Board because of her action.
Said the Transport Minister: “In keeping with best practice in the aviation industry, a comprehensive assessment of all facets of the airport was needed to be carried out. The GoL therefore commissioned NACO. While the assessment was been carried out, the RIA still had to operate in keeping with stringent international professional standards. This required the best personnel. In keeping with our determination to utilize the services of the best, the Board of Directors of the LAA hired Madam Ellen Cockrum, who came highly recommended with impressive credentials. One of the first tasks the new Managing Director was asked to undertake was the implementation of the Emergency Assessment Report by NACO,” he stated.
The Transport Ministry boss continued: “It was determined that in carrying out this activity, Madam Cockrum breached her contract and caused significant loss of money to the LAA. The Board therefore terminated her contract. The President of Liberia has endorsed this action by the board and has since instructed further actions because of possible violation of the PPCC Act and the PFM Law.”
Meanwhile, Minister Nagbe stated that the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has begun an investigation into the matter. He said the LACC has invited Mr. Bility to appear before it in order to assist in the investigation. “The Ministry of Justice has also been requested to investigate apparent violations of the PFM and PPCC laws of Liberia. Additionally, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) has commissioned an audit of the LAA,” he stated. Minister Nagbe indicated that the Board of the LAA has also commissioned a private firm to perform what he called a “snap audit” of its finances.
Minister Nagbe added that the Board has hired lawyers to initiate proceedings both in Liberia and the United States in an effort to “recoup monies illegally remitted to the U.S.”