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Tamale International Airport to cost US$174 million

By Francis Xavier Tuokuu

The need for another International Airport in Ghana to complement that of the Kotoka International Airport, Accra is long overdue. This is because of the high patronage of the country's airspace. With the drilling of oil in commercial quantities and growth in the economy, more foreign direct investments are increasing on a daily basis.

Also, Ghanaian pilgrims to Mecca who are mostly from the Northern parts of the country always go through hell every year as many of them do not have relatives in Accra and are forced to sleep at the airport for weeks prior to their departure at the mercy of the weather. Thanks to the present arrangement, where a Hajj Village has been built near the El-Wak Sports Stadium, where they are accommodated and fed before embarking on this Holy Pilgrimage.

It is reported that, Ghana's aviation and air travel industry stand out as one of the fastest growing and most competitive in the sub-region underscored by the fact that the number of commercial and cargo carriers plying in and out of Ghana has almost doubled from 15 in 2000 to 30 in 2010.

The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) made it a campaign promise prior to the 2008 elections that, when voted into power they would build a second International Airport in Tamale to transform the savanna regions of Ghana with the view of bridging the development gap between the North and South of the country.

During a visit to Brazil by Vice President John Mahama, he appealed to the Government of Brazil to help attain this noble course. This request was agreed and the Brazilian Infrastructure Development Company, Queiroz Galvao, is prepared for the construction of the airport which is to be financed by Brazil's national EXIM bank, BNDES.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has since been signed by Queiroz Galvao with the Ministry of Transport, and completed the necessary designs and phasing for the works.

Vice President Mahama explained that the project will start with the expansion of the runway to accommodate large body Aircrafts and also the construction of an international standard terminal building. The next phase will be the provision of ancillary services including hangers, maintenance area, catering and ground handling. The last phase will be the construction of a cargo village targeting fresh fruit farmers that are setting up camp in the Savanna regions and the various processing companies being set up in the area.

The project according to him is estimated to cost US$174 million.