The Ministry of Aviation would be sending a comprehensive proposal to the President this week on how it plans to reopen the nation’s air borders. The proposal has a detailed plan, recommending a number of scenarios, impact analysis and control mechanism that can be introduced to hugely mitigate the fear of importation of COVID-19 cases when the air borders are finally opened.
The B&FT has gathered that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is seriously considering reopening the air borders in the Phase–2 of easing restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 but has emphasized that it would only happen when the nation is content with control mechanism to check the importation of cases.
A number of control mechanisms have been presented in the proposal for government’s consideration. They include bilateral certification processes, mandatory quarantine among others.
“We want to have a firm grip on how we would manage the system here. These are ideas that are being shared globally and within Ghana as well. Generally, it is about how we reduce the rate of imported cases and reduce the risk from travelers.
We are looking at bilateral relations and certification; that one has tested negative before travelling and how we are able to validate that certificate when they arrive in Ghana and what do we do when they arrive in Ghana,” Aviation Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda told the media recently.
He added that: “it is not about Ghana but what happens in other countries that affect Ghana. Certainly, if we are going to open up the airport, there is a possibility that we are going to have more of the COVID-19 cases come in that we may not be able to manage and it would take a toll on the resources of the nation.”
He explained that some financial considerations are also being critically looked at in order to strike a balance between how much the country would benefit from reopening its boarders and the risk it will pose on the health of citizens and the economy. “The health of the citizens would be key in decision making,” he stressed.
According to him, going through quarantine, management of the cases, tracking and testing are all expenditure one must look at when making a decision to reopen borders. “Unless we are in full control of that and are able to handle that effectively and know where we can get money to handle all that, it does not make sense to open. If more people are going to die as a result of that, then it would not help.”
He noted that some comprehensive works have been done already geared towards a safe reopening. “What we have done is so far include a review of what is going on globally, internal assessment and we are about finishing our proposal which would be share with government.
Then we would seek the views of our colleagues in cabinet. I am sure that there would come some solid recommendations for the President to give his blessings to. For now, we have not completed that process, I hope by this week we can finish that. It would be the first step to get the President to see what we can consider in opening that airport.”
Sector’s financial woes
The Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GACL) are facing serious financial challenges as their main source of income has dried up due the partial operational airport as part of measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
Government, through the Ministry of Finance, has approved a bailout fund for seven State Owned Enterprises including the two companies which would be facilitated by the Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG). The Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda confirming this said: “Government has approved the bailout, largely dedicated towards maintaining the staff.” The GH¢312 million bailout facility would exist for the next six months.