President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has cut the sod for work to begin on the construction of the second phase of the Kumasi Airport project.
Estimated at 66.3 million euros, the project, expected to be completed in 24 months, will involve the extension of the runway from the current 1,981 metres to 2,300 metres, an addition of 319 metres, and the construction of a new terminal building with the capacity to hold one million passengers per year.
The implementation of the project is expected to create jobs for more than 1,200 masons, steel benders, tilers and carpenters.
Performing the ceremony, President Akufo-Addo said funding for the project had been secured and, therefore, there should not be any excuse for the contractors to delay, a situation that could lead to cost overrun, adding: “The delivery of the project on time should be their watchword.”
In attendance were the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II; the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare; ministers of state, some Members of Parliament, as well as the Head of Trade at the British High Commission, Mr Peter Courtney.
Describing the project as a seminal moment in the growth and development of Kumasi, the President explained that “the expansion of this airport is a critical part of the government’s vision to expand the frontiers of the aviation industry in the country and realise the dream of making Ghana an aviation hub in West Africa”.
With widespread youth unemployment being the greatest threat to democracy and the stability of the nation, he said the implementation of the project would result in the creation of some 1,200 jobs.
He said it would also stimulate the growth of the nation’s industrial and agricultural sectors and boost the tourism potential of the Ashanti Region in particular and lead to the significant expansion of traffic for domestic air transport.
“The completion of this project will form part of the multi-modal transportation system being embarked upon by the government, comprising air, marine, rail and road transportation. The project will stimulate the growth of our country’s industrial and agricultural sectors and boost the tourism potential of Ashanti,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo reiterated his government’s commitment to develop the domestic aviation industry and cited the removal of the 17 per cent VAT on domestic air fares as a clear indication of the determination of the government to pursue policies and programmes that would lead to the growth of the industry.
He said the Ministry of Aviation had been engaging some domestic and international investors to partner the government for the establishment of a national airline and hinted that the process would be completed by the end of the year.
The President said the second phase of the Tamale Airport and the rehabilitation of the Sunyani Airport would commence very soon, while the completed Ho and the Wa airports would be opened in due course.
Workers at the construction site
Touching on the widespread encroachment on aviation lands in the country, he said that negative development threatened the future expansion of airports and related services and, therefore, must be stopped.
He urged aviation regulators, airport operators, the Lands Commission and traditional authorities to team up and ensure that such lands were secure not only for the future expansion of airports but also the safety and security of lives and properties around airports.
The Minister of Aviation, Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah, said funding for the project was secured through the Ministry of Finance and the Santander S.A., a Spanish banking group, on December 29, 2017, after a value-for-money analysis had been done.
She said the agreement became effective in April 2018, adding that “this project is a new project and is the much-awaited Kumasi International Airport project”.
She stated that the sod cutting was in fulfilment of the manifesto promise of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to the people of Ghana in the run-up to the 2016 general election to make Ghana the aviation hub of West Africa.
Ms Dapaah commended Otumfuo Osei Tutu for providing the government with 26,000 acres of land at Ankaase for the aviation infrastructure project.
She said although the contractors had 24 months to complete the project, she had urged them to put in extra time and efforts to execute it in 18 months, noting that they had given positive signals to the request.