The RIA disaster poses serious security, economic and diplomatic risks to Liberia. This situation has become a national emergency. Therefore, I would like to help find a solution and here is how. I read a few comments under my previous Facebook post regarding the RIA debacle and two particular comments struck me: “Is Liberia losing revenue?” and “How much do we spend on fuel?”
Part of my job as an activist is to unearth hard facts and promote national awareness through the concealment of accurate information. So, I will answer just three (3) key questions:
- Is Liberia Losing Revenue?
- How much is spent on fuel to run the RIA generator?
- Is there a concrete solution to the power failure at RIA?
Let’s start with question 1 (loss of income):
Every time a plane reroutes or changes its route to Sierra Leone or a neighboring country, Liberia incurs or suffers huge loss of revenue. At RIA, there are two main fees or charges that are paid by commercial aircraft or international flights, namely: airport tax per passenger and airport tax per aircraft.
- Airport tax per passenger (PPAT):
- Airport Tax – US$85
- LR Tax – US$61
- Utility bills – US$3.96
- Total per passenger – US$150.66
The SN Brussels flight which diverted to Sierra Leone is carrying up to 270 passengers. So, let’s calculate: US$150.96 x 270 passengers = US$40,500.00. Technically, Liberia suffered a loss of 40.5k just on the per capita tax. See attached document.
- By aircraft tax (PAT):
- Airplane landing fee – US$1,500
- Aircraft Handling Fee – US$2,100
- Total – $3,600
- Grand Total (PPAT + PAT) = $44,100
To note: On one plane alone (SN Brussels), Liberia lost over $44,000. This could buy over 800 gallons of fuel for RIA to run its generator all day.
Let’s move on to question #2 (Fuel costs):
According to RIA management in an official press release issued on April 1, 2022, eight hundred (800) gallons of diesel fuel are required to operate RIA on a daily basis. How much does a gallon of diesel fuel cost in Liberia? As of April 25, 2022, a gallon of diesel is equivalent to 707.8 Liberian dollars, or $4.67 according to world gasoline prices (https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/Liberia/diesel_prices/).
The break is below or see attached document:
1) Diesel Price in Liberia (per liter per gallon):
- LRD – Liter (186.974) – Gallon (707.773)
- USD – Liter (1.233) – Gallon (4.667)
- EUR – Liter (1.152) – Gallon (4.361)
So, at 800 gallons of diesel per day, how much is RIA spending? Liberia spends 3,733.6 USD (566,218.4 LRD). This means that RIA needs more than 111,990 to buy only diesel fuel per month. The transport and maintenance costs of the generators are not even included. Over a 12-month period, diesel fuel will cost RIA over $1,343,880. Wow. Just for fuel as the Farmington River is nearby? This brings me to question #3.
Is there a concrete solution to the power failure at RIA?
This is where vision comes in and this is where I want to help. Mr. Weah, I really want to help.
- Short term solution:
The Firestone Rubber Plantation occupies 251 square miles (650 square kilometers), or about 0.6% of Liberia. This company has generated billions of dollars in profits in Liberia since 1926, when it leased 1 million acres of land for 99 years at a price of 6 cents USD per acre. Firestone Rubber Plantation currently operates a hydroelectric plant on the Farmington River. They operate 4 turbines with a capacity of 4800kWp with an annual production of 1.6 x 103 kilowatts (Source: http://www.renewables-liberia.info/index.php/projects-new/project-plants).
RIA can’t be in the dark when a foreign investment company right next to RIA, Firestone Rubber Plantation, has 24/7 power, even though Firestone uses our river to generate this electrical energy. Mr. Weah and his team must engage Firestone now to urgently explore opportunities for Firestone to supply power to RIA. A win-win approach could be applied here.
- Mid-term solution:
Dozens of international airports depend on solar energy. This could save costs and reduce carbon emissions (for example, a good way to fight global warming). For example, Cochin International Airport in India is 100% dependent on solar panels with a total solar capacity of 28.8 MW. In Africa, George Airport in South Africa is powered by solar energy. It has 2,000 solar panels that generate up to 750 kWh every day, which exceeds the 400 kWh needed to run the airport. How much does an airport solar panel cost?
According to the Center for Aviation (CAPA), prices for airport solar panels have fallen by up to 50%. CAPA writes: “For a simple industrial first phase grid up to 100 MW, as installed on an airfield: the price can be 1.50 USD to 2.30 USD per panel (Source: https://centreforaviation .com/analysis/reports/airports–the-environment-solar-power-begins-to-generate-stellar-economies-part-1—100-airports-act-250723)…” The average price of a solar panel worldwide is $2.75 per watt according to solar.com. So what’s stopping RIA from going solar-powered by at least 25% during the dry season?
- Long term solution:
If Firestone uses River Farmington to generate electricity, why not RIA too? After all, it’s our own river. How much does it cost to build a mini hydroelectric power station? Although prices may vary by country, these variations may not be significant. According to UK-based energy company Renewable First, it would cost £624,000 to get a 130kW mini hydro system. It’s a little over half a million dollars. To be more precise, it would cost 784,586 USD. But RIA spends over $1.3 million on diesel fuel alone a year. Even if we spend $5 million on a mini hydro plant to power RIA, we can save $2,796,470 in 5 years. More importantly, we will save ourselves from such international shame. See attached or read via this source: https://www.facebook.com/messenger_media?thread_id=100034707955186&attachment_id=743452260163209&message_id=mid.%24cAAAB-nFRiHaGrLMcp2Ae23KjOQwp.
Note: The long-term solution might be a short-term solution if speed, accuracy, and resources are invested in ideas.
This is where I want to help. As an exiled activist and citizen of Liberia, I will develop a concept or framework on these three (3) possible solutions. I will do it for FREE. I have contacted a few technocrats/technicians (eg engineers) and they are ready to join me in doing this together. Again, we will do this for free. While my stance against Mr. Weah and his government remains unchanged, this goes well beyond political disagreement/dissent. The concept will also identify sources of revenue to finance the implementation of these projects. I’m not only interested in criticizing, but I’m also interested in finding solutions.
As always, I want to be part of The solution equation. Liberia first, Liberia last, Liberia forever.
About the Author: Martin KN Kollie is an exiled Liberian activist and he can be contacted via [email protected]