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Opinions of Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Kotoka International Airport in need of urgent & immediate upgrading

On my arrival at the Accra Kotoka International Airport on 20 November 2016 at about 20:00 hours aboard a British Airways flight, I immediately noticed two problems of which I conveyed them to the public's attention through a publication put out on both Ghanaweb and Modernghana. The problems were, or are, about the non-existence of a "Transit Hall" at the airport and the non-internationally-conforming standard of checking out landed air passengers at the immigration desks.

On my return to London on 20 December 2016 at about 22:00 hours, I noticed a similar but far worse problem at the departure (immigration) post than that of the arrival posts. There is a huge architectural building or structural pillar that obstructs the queuing departing passengers in the front of the queue from seeing the immigration desks to their left hand side. All the immigration desks on their left hand side are on their blind spot. They have no way of telling when a desk becomes vacant and that the first person in the queue must proceed to that post unless alerted by an immigration officer standing by the queue.

These immigration officers standing by the queue do not very often immediately become aware of a post becoming vacant. They collect the passports of passengers, examine them, and ask them to proceed to available immigration posts once they become aware of such posts becoming vacant.

I do not understand the repetition of checking a passenger's travelling documents and details both in the queue and at the immigration desk. This is by the way not the crux of my write-up today but the delay caused by passengers not being aware that an immigration desk has become available for them to proceed to the desk to be attended to because of such desks/posts being on their blind.

This problem, needlessly, delays or obstructs the free flow of passengers during checking out or in at arrivals and departures, respectively.

I would like to see this problem resolved to bring the treatment of air passengers at the Accra Kotoka Airport to an acceptable international standard. The one thing I hate to see is for people to be treated anyhow in what is usually “Ghana deE saa” (this is the way of doing things in Ghana) attitude.

I shall make it a personal duty to ensure that this deplorable attitude at the Kotoka airport is dealt with to bring about decency in dealing with our arrived or departing air passengers.

As once suggested in my previous publication on same subject, counter/cabin controllers in the form of “Call Forward Systems” – (These systems inform the head of a queue which teller or reception position is free next. This makes serving customers much more efficient) are to be installed at both the arrival and departure (immigration) posts to facilitate the unhitched flow of passengers.

At Accra Kotoka International Airport, the immigration cabins/desks are arranged such that most of them are on the blind spot of queuing arrived/departing air passengers.

I would like to suggest to the management of the airport to install automated “queue forward controllers” that will announce, "next person please go to counter number 1, 2 or 3" when the immigration officer in a vacant cabin presses a button. This will help facilitate the flow of passengers in a more professional way than the immigration officers beckoning to the next customer to come to their vacant cabins which method is often not observed by the customer being called.

Additionally, the arrangements of the immigration cabins at the arrival hall with one cabin behind the other and on the queuing passengers’ blind spot do not make it convenient serving passengers in a professional manner. At the departure side, although the cabins are differently arranged, most of them are still on the blind spot of passengers.

I could see the immigration officers whose posts were vacant chatting among themselves while passengers were still in the queue waiting to be served or attended to. They could not be bothered. This is not on. This observation was made on my return trip to London on 20 December 2016 as mentioned earlier.

When I arrived at London on 21 December 2016 at about 05:20 hours, I took time to observe the immigration posts and the conduct of the immigration officers at London Heathrow Airport to be able to advise or suggest to the Management of Kotoka Airport what to do to better the treatment of arrived or departing air passengers.

At London Heathrow Terminal 3 arrival hall, I could see the Tensabarriers (Retractable Belt Barriers) complexly, but expertly arranged to take arriving air passengers to within two to three metres from the immigration cabins. The cabins are arranged in the order of 2 x 3 and are all in client facing order. They are about two to three metres away from the first person in the queue and once a post becomes vacant, the immigration officer announces, “next” to the hearing of the next person in the front of the queue. There is no way that one will miss his/her chance or will not see when a post becomes vacant.

I suggest we either arrange our Ghana tensabarriers so expertly to take passengers to the immigration posts without any cabin being on the blind spot of a passenger in the queue or we install Call Forward Systems.

I shall make getting this problem resolved my baby. I shall go all the way to the future Minister of Roads, Transport and Aviation to ensure this reported inconvenience at Kotoka Airport is gotten rid of.

I believe in perseverance to conquering this annoying chronic problem at the Kotoka airport. We cannot continue to stagnate in doing things the usual “Ghana deE saa” way. No way!!!

Rockson Adofo, the proud son of Kumawu and, or Asiampa will make sure this disgusting problem is solved even if it should take appealing to President-elect Nana Akufo Addo in the near future to get it done.

Rockson Adofo

(Written on Sunday 25 December 2016)