Government is keen on accelerating the expansion of other regional airports to ease the pressure on Kotoka and boost domestic economic activity, Aviation Minister, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, has said.
She explained to the Spanish ambassador to Ghana, Maria Jesus Alonso, who paid a courtesy call on her at her office in Accra, that the Tamale airport expansion project, in particular, is a “special” one.
“In fact, we have the land and we can expand it to any length that we think we need; we want to develop Tamale to be able to serve the Sahelian region. We also want to create warehouses there with cold stores to stock agricultural produce for export; they don’t have to travel all the way to the South before they export their produce,” she said.
She added that: “We also want to build fuel tank farms so that planes can go there and refuel; we don’t want them to come to Accra all the time.”
A US$100-million upgrading and expansion project has been ongoing at the Tamale airport, with former President Mahama inaugurating the first phase in August 2016.
The project includes the extension of the runway from 2,480 metres to about 3,940 metres and the installation of a lighting system for the airport to accommodate bigger aircraft.
Cecilia Dapaah went on to say that: “The connectivity within Ghana and the sub-region and Africa has not developed yet, so we will lead that to make sure we open up the country for business men, women, youth to travel and see the other regions and also to promote tourism.”
In line with this, the Aviation Ministry, she said, has held series of meetings with the Tourism Minister, in a bid to build helipads and landing sites for light aircraft, to make it easier for tourists to travel to tourist sites.
“When people travel for six hours from Spain and they land, they don’t have to travel by road for another five hours or eight hours to the hinterland to see tourist sites. So, we have everything laid out; we have decided to have a Standing Committee to promote some of these ideas and connect the airports.
You should be able to fly from Takoradi to Tamale easily and you should be able to fly from Takoradi to Kumasi but as it stands now, everything emanates from Accra and it gets choked. We have a programme to expand and extend runways to make sure they receive bigger aircraft.”
Ambassador Maria Jesus Alonso, on her part, indicated that Spanish companies are in a position to provide navigation equipment to the country’s airports and they are keen on working with Ghana.
“There is a Spanish company which is equipped with surveillance systems at the airport and they are also talented with all the surveillance systems in air space related issues. We thought you should know about the company and in fact they are already working and are keen to work in other areas of aviation. We don’t know yet what your plans are for the Ministry but we will be very happy if you take into account that we have companies who are already into civil aviation.”
The Minister maintained that government intends to build more airports and as such will be relying on companies to provide value for money equipment.
However, she stressed that the foreign companies are expected to train Ghanaians in order to maintain the equipment when these companies depart.