Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda has warned of impending forceful removals of communication masts belonging to telecommunication and media companies that are impeding work and effective operations at the Wa Airport after earlier warnings had been ignored.
According to the minister who was speaking on the floor of parliament to update members on progress of the work, the masts – eight in number – are sited in the airways or approach path around the airport, and are owned by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Poupeli FM, W95.5 FM, Radio Upper West, Vodafone, and Helios (used by Airteltigo).
He added that the restrictions which came with the coronavirus pandemic halted plans of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to apply force in removing the masts. However, he said, the authority will soon take that action as the masts’ owners have turned deaf ears to the warning issued in January.
“These masts penetrated the Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) for the Wa Airport. To remedy the situation, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority in a letter dated January 20, 2020 accordingly directed owners of the masts to remove them within fifteen working days, in the interest of safety for aircraft operations.
“None of the masts’ owners have since responded to the directive, and so the Authority was collaborating with the appropriate agencies to remove the masts and surcharge their owners when the COVID-19 pandemic issue came up and stalled the process. In this regard, the GCAA has resumed its collaboration with the appropriate agencies to get the masts removed as soon as practicable,” he said.
The minister however noted that there is currently a mitigating measure through an approach procedure designed by GCAA for use by airlines on the approach path, adding that the GCAA is collaborating with stakeholders in the industry to reassess the procedures on how flights can adjust to new measures – taking into consideration the Vodafone and Helios towers directly sited on the approach path.
Another major impediment the Aviation Minister mentioned is the poor state of the Apron (aircraft parking area) of the airport, which forces aircraft to park on the runway.
Mr. Adda also mentioned COVID-19 and dwindling passenger numbers due to the virus as the reason, mainly, for the suspension of flight operations to Wa by AWA – adding that AWA will start operations when the pandemic situation improves.
The rehabilitation of Wa Airport was completed in 2019 to pave the way for its operation, following assessment of the Pavement Classification Number (PNC) as the final activity conducted on the runway. This subsequently paved the way for Africa World Airlines (AWA) to start operations in October last year.