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Opinions of Monday, 24 October 2016

Columnist: Fadi Dabbousi

The $100m lie – A Tamale Airport quandary

Tamale AirportTamale Airport

Touchdown on 17/10/2016 at 15:30 hrs wasn’t greasy; not rough either. A thud and we were rolling off the runway towards the parking ramp at Tamale (international) airport. Then, I was too eager to return to my adopted hometown to notice how bitter the pill was that my people of the Northern part of Ghana were made to swallow.

You know, with all due respect, sometimes lack of knowledge and a bit of a lackadaisical attitude makes one vulnerable, especially in the situation where the NDC have mustered the machinations of dishonesty, theft, incompetence, ineptitude, buffoonery, and total disregard for the electorate who are visited once every four years with GHs 50 and a few goodies, and, of course, promises that will break before they rest in the bosoms of gullible people.

Soon we disembarked to walk the 100 meters or so to the arrivals hall under the scorching sun in sweltering temperatures exceeding 37 degrees Celsius. But the terminal has remained as it was since the days of the NPP under former President J.A. Kufuor! The short unsophisticated carousel spoke nothing about the supposed flamboyancy of an international airport that should handle multitudes of visitors and so on. In fact the Tamale airport arrivals hall couldn’t be more spacious than the living room in the house of an NDC Minister.

After the successful launch of the NPP Tamale Central campaign, we prepared to return to Accra the following morning. It is worth noting that the mammoth crowd that attended, of course much bigger than the NDC’s, was drawn by the message of hope that the NPP has as against the Shatawale “kaikai” crowd that Hon Inusah Fusseini allegedly paid GHs150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand Ghana Cedis) to achieve.

Back at the airport the following day, I imbibed every detail in the supposed expansion of the airport as touted loudly and drummed emptily by the NDC miscreants and novices. But the details resonated the naked lies that were peddled in the media by the invidious NDC communicators and divisive propagandists. First of all, the airport has no taxiway for aircrafts to taxi on to get to the runway for take-off or to exit onto after touchdown. The only strip that serves as a runway has seen no extension or resurfacing. The terminal building has practically remained the same since eons. The only difference is the big hangar that sits awkwardly behind the main building, and even that one is an old structure refurbished to look new.

But the NDC government, led by President John Dramani Mahama suggested that the project of turning the airport into an international one cost the nation a whopping $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars). Respectfully, this is what I call massive theft, looting, and a preposterous lie with the intent to bamboozle the nation. Such are the many more despicable machinations of disservice up the sleeves of the NDC.

I noticed that the Glide Slope Indicators (GSI) or Visual Approach Slope Indicators (VASI) were the same old ones. I was also, reliably, informed that the VOR has not seen any refurbishment other than the maintenance that is, even, not scheduled. Moreover, the ILS has not been replaced with any other high-tech system at all. How about the NDB (non-directional beacon)? Was a new one installed? So I ask President John Dramani Mahama, “Sir, where did the 100 million dollars go to?

How was it spent, and on what was it blown?”

Mr. President is being called all sorts of names because of the provocations that his unacceptable rhetoric stirs in people. Other than the much touted, televised, and broadcasted non-achievement of placing an immigration officer in a cubicle to make meaningful the word “international”, what was done on the Tamale airport? To say that even the toilets did not undergo renovation is absolute and true.

Luckily, I noticed that a paint job was done and the walls were shining. Weep O ye Ghanaian, for thy 100 million dollars were consumed by the thinner that was used to mix the paint; or did they use turpentine?

The pilots did their pre-taxi run-up and turned onto the runway, backtracking to the threshold for a u-turn to position the aircraft for the takeoff roll.

With a blast of power from the four turbines of the BAE176, we were airborne before the passengers could finish saying their short prayers. The scandal in this whole observation is that getting a Jumbo jet to haul passengers to Mecca as realised in the last Haj season is no feat at all.

With that size aircraft almost as heavy as the airbus A340, which landed on that same runway at that same airport with the same international status in 2008 under the NPP when it brought the Bafana Bafana squad for the African Nation’s Cup tournaments, it can only be said that the precedent established by the NPP is being hijacked by the NDC, to make it seem as if the President has the Muslims at heart.

The NDC is a Party of liars. They have taken the people of the North for fools for far too long.