Airports get ready to recommence operations

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 Zoomlion undertakes massive disinfection exercise at KIA and 3 others to pave the way for domestic operations

The Minister for Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda, has said that domestic airline operation is likely to resume by the coming weekend after all airports in the country were closed down due to the partial lockdown of Greater Accra, Kasoa and Greater Kumasi to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

All major airports in the country – Kotoka International, Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale -underwent massive disinfection exercises yesterday to rid their offices and operational areas off all bacteria and viruses and pave the way for regular domestic flight operations to resume.

“We are particularly doing this because we want to start domestic flights first,” the minister told the media before the exercise started.

The exercise lasted for about eight hours at the KIA and saw 240 personnel comprising 140 sprayers, 24 supervisors and 20 team leads to execute the exercise at terminals one, two and three, and all other operational areas in and outside the airport enclave. Also, four atomisers, four boom spraying vehicles, four fogger machines, 60 motorised machines, and 120 knapsacks were used for the disinfection exercise at KIA.

Head of the Disinfection Team at Zoomlion, Rev. Ebenezer Kwame Addai, told the media that “the teams have been properly trained to ensure they execute a professional job. They are to ensure that all surfaces and all places people can touch and get infected are also polished and disinfected”.

He disclosed that the exercise was done simultaneously at all four airports in the country.

He noted that it was aimed at keeping the airports healthy and also preventing the spread of the virus.

In the case of KIA, Rev. Addae said the whole airport environs, including the Project Site and its clinic, were disinfected.

He went on to add that facilities disinfected at the Accra Kotoka International Airport included the tarmac, parking lot, arrival hall, passenger terminals 1, 2, 3, VVIP terminal, offices, lounges, etc.

According to him, in addition to the team of sprayers used in the exercise, his outfit also used cannon atomisers to spray open spaces at the airport.

The Aviation Minister, Mr. Adda, told the media that after the exercise Ghana Airport Company and Port Health Authorities will have to take a few days to install all the preventive protocols and tracking devices to safeguard airport operations.

“We all know that we closed down the airport except for special flights that were allowed to evacuate passengers under the special conditions from the presidency. We also had to allow the continuation of cargo operations because there was a need to bring in essential cargo to help fight against the pandemic. We were not really flying; the airport was virtually closed.

“We are here to fumigate the airport, disinfect it in all ways possible. The air space, floor, walls, counters – everything that needs to be touched or that would be touched by operators and by the passengers; that is going to be done – including all three terminals containing the other supporting facilities such as the Civil Aviation terminal buildings and the Air Traffic Control Tower,” the minister said.

He added that disinfection and fumigation of the cargo area and all other areas in the cargo section of the airport will be carried out.

“After that is done, the Airport Company led by the Port Health Officials will make sure all the things that need to be installed to support the implementation of the protocols will take place. That is to say, all the handwashing devises, sanitisers, nose masks will be made available and also checked by the Airport Company and Port Health at all places before we start operating,” Mr. Adda added.

The minister is confident that the exercise’s success will serve as a standard for other African countries to follow, as Ghana is the first to lockdown its airports and resume operation.

“Let me also bring to your attention that in the whole of Africa, we are the only country to have closed our airport and are about to reopen; so, we want to do it well and do it right to make sure we lead the way and put out the right example for other African countries to follow.

“We want to ensure that all is done right, and towards the weekend we then begin domestic flights. It is possible that permission will be granted to foreign embassies who want to evacuate their personnel as we have been doing. As and when they get permission and come here, the Airport Company will do what it has been doing to certify that the right thing is done to get them out of the country.”

The closure of borders on March 22 as a result of the importation of COVID-19 cases restricted aviation movement – except for essential import and export of goods and also evacuating embassy personnel. The three-week partial lockdown from March 30 and April 19 also halted the activities of all domestic airlines. Domestic airlines including Africa World Airline and Passion Air have indicated their willingness to begin operations again.

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