Today, Ghana joins the rest of the world to commemorate the 2022 International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Day, the day set aside each year to commemorate and generate worldwide consciousness about the contribution of international civil aviation to global socio-economic development.
This year’s commemoration is on the theme: “Advancing Innovation for Global Aviation Development”.
In 1996, pursuant to an ICAO initiative, and with the assistance of the Canadian government, the United Nations General Assembly officially recognised December 7 as International Civil Aviation Day in the UN system.
As the day is being commemorated, we need to remind Ghanaians that the country’s airspace is regarded internationally as one of the safest in the world. It is instructive to note that owing to its aviation safety record, Ghana currently controls the airspace of Togo, Benin and a large portion of the Atlantic Ocean into Angola, which was ceded to Ghana by the ICAO.
Ghana’s increasing prominence in the global arena is evidenced by the successes chalked up in the aviation sector. There has been rapid growth in commercial activities as a result of efforts to open up and connect the country through the establishment of solid infrastructure. If Ghana is to attain the vision of being the aviation hub of excellence for the sub-region, it must meet all international standards.
This explains why the Daily Graphic commends the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) for providing world-class regulation and air navigation services within the aviation industry, connecting people and cultures from all world regions in the past 35 years.
Unfortunately, Ghana’s enviable safety record is being threatened as the GCAA is losing some of its sensitive installations in Accra, including cables used to direct pilots during landing and take-off. This is due to increasing attacks on its properties in the La Nkwantanang and the La Dadekotopon municipalities, both in the Greater Accra Region.
Among the installations are the main signal receiving station near Madina and the signal transmission station at La Wireless. The underground cables, made up of electricity, communications and aeronautical, which serve the two stations have either been dug out or cut by encroachers who are putting up buildings on lands reserved for aviation activities.
We learnt that the activities of these encroachers on sensitive aviation lands are gradually becoming inimical to the safety of flights coming into the country, with sometimes air traffic controllers losing direct communication with pilots finding route in the country’s airspace.
The Daily Graphic is deeply concerned about this unfortunate development because frequent communication disruptions between pilots and air traffic controllers can erode the gains made in aviation safety over the years after the country had obtained Africa’s highest score in Aviation Safety Oversight in 2019 by the ICAO.
We need to remind all Ghanaians that poor performance in aviation safety has a negative impact on the general aviation economy because commercial airlines will be hesitant to use the airspace. It will also affect revenue to the government, the GCAA and the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL).
We cannot afford to erode all the gains made by the GCAA over the years to ensure the safety of our airspace by allowing encroachers to set us back and, more crucially, put the lives of aviation staff and those of international travellers in harm’s way.
Over the years, the 650 acres of GCAA land at La Nkwantanang has been reduced to 50 acres as a result of encroachment, and despite measures put in place by the authority to safeguard its properties, the illegal act still prevails.
We need the active support and collaboration of the National Security and the police to assist in the protection of the affected aviation installations. The activities of encroachers are definitely unpatriotic and all efforts must be directed at ensuring that these sensitive and vital state assets are protected.
Indeed, this fight cannot be won by the GCAA alone, without the support of the government, as the involvement of the latter is fundamentally crucial to the sector.