Wa Airstrip yet to be inaugurated over a year after completion

BY: Michael Quaye
 Part of the refurbished  airstrip
Part of the refurbished airstrip

The Wa Airstrip in the Upper West Region is virtually wasting away over a year after rehabilitation and expansion works on it were completed for use.

So far, it has been limited to presidential flights to and from the regional capital with no sign of the much anticipated commercial flights happening any time soon.

Staff at the Airstrip refused to speak to the Daily Graphic, citing strict orders, but there are concerns that the lack of commercial activities could lead to the facilities deteriorating fast.

The rehabilitation works were done by Messrs Skill Link Limited and although the refurbishment could not meet the original September 2016 handover deadline, it was eventually completed in the first quarter of 2017.

Facilities


The airstrip currently boasts a two-kilometre tarmac with a 40-metre width which makes it capable of hosting Code C type aircraft which includes Boeing 737-700 Airbus and Embraer ERJ 190-100. The tarmac is longer than that of the Kumasi Airport as it is now and secured with barbed wires.

The arrival and departure terminals with adjoining offices for airline agencies and ticket sales have also been fixed.

Dying enthusiasm

The enthusiasm that characterised the rehabilitation works had died out in the absence of concrete plans to begin commercial flight activities at the airstrip.

Currently, residents or persons wishing to travel to or from the region by flight can only connect through Tamale, which is between four and five hours drive from Wa.

A businessman, Mr Eric Dankwa Kissi, who is the Chief Executive of a maize processing company, Kedan Limited, said the absence of a direct flight from Wa to Accra or Kumasi was a big concern to him and his colleagues.

"It is so inconveniencing when you have an emergency business trip to make to Wa or from Wa to Accra," he told the Daily Graphic.

"There were times that we needed to send samples from Wa to Accra for testing, and instead of a single day's work, we spent so much time travelling by road," he added.

Madam Elham Mumuni, a native, said she endured frustrating travels between Wa and Accra during her previous schedules because of the lack of a direct flight from Wa.

"I had to go and sleep in Tamale for a day before my scheduled flights, which added to the cost.

“A commercial flight to and from Wa is long overdue looking at the rate at which Wa is growing in commerce," she stated.