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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 July 2005

Columnist: Kuyini, Ahmed Bawa

The Economics of a New International Airport in Kumasi or Tamale

The need to develop a second international airport in Ghana has been on the drawing board as far back as the 1960s. Even though the objective has not been realized for the past forty years, there is good reason to laud the Government?s decision to build a new international airport in the country at a location within the hinterland.

The Ghanaweb story of 2 days ago indicated that the Government had acquired land to build a new airport between Mampong and Kumasi. There is no doubt that such a huge capital venture would constitute a significant portion of our foreign reserves.

My worry is that for a country that is still recovering from serious economic problems, it appears that such an investment will result in misplaced priorities and is not a sound economic decision. I was of the view that the existing airport in Kumasi would be upgraded to the status of an international airport. The Kumasi Airport can be made into an international airport at less cost. Otherwise an alternative consideration would be to make the Tamale airport, which has already got the capacity of space and equipment into an international airport at not significant cost to Ghana.

In fact the Tamale airport has previously been used for international flights for the Hajj to Mecca in the 1970s during the Acheampong era, and some upgrading was carried out in the years that followed. Many physical structures and office buildings were initiated in the 1980s as a part of a drive to make it into a full international airport. Successive governments did not follow through with the plans and some of the buildings have been left to the destructive fury of the weather for years. A relatively recent visit to the Airport showed that most of those structures could be completed and harnessed for an international airport at minimal cost to Government of Ghana. It is my belief that if the Kumasi or Tamale airports were considered for final upgrade to international airport status, the extra cost of putting up a new airport would be put to other well-meaning use to benefit the poor communities in rural Ghana.

The fact of the matter is that our parliaments under 4 successive democratic governments from the 1990s have known clearly that we need to make very wise economic decisions and I am really wondering why they have all failed to see that we can still have an international airport at minimal cost to our economy. To my mind, this is the way to go, unless the reason for building a completely new airport is something other than economics.

I am challenging our parliament/ government to take a critical look at this issue and make a decision for the benefit of Ghana?s poor, who have no clinics, no water and no shelter.



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