Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pilgrims Missed Being Airlifted From Tamale Airport To Mecca

Mrs. Dzifa Attivor

Muslims from the Upper West, Upper East, Northern and Brong Ahafo Regions of Ghana, who are preparing to embark on the 2015 pilgrimage to Mecca, would not fly directly from the Tamale Airport as earlier promised by the ruling government.

During the organisation of the 2014 pilgrimage to Mecca, President John Dramani Mahama made a pledge to airlift all pilgrims from Northern Ghana from the Tamale Airport to Mecca. At the time, the airport was to undergo construction to upgrade it to an international standard and also extend the length of the current runway which was much shorter in distance and therefore, was not suitable for bigger aircrafts to land and take off. 

But it seems the President’s promise would not come to pass. This is because, Queiroz Galvao, the Brazilian contraction company working on the airport recently hinted it would not be able to finish work as planned. Work was supposed to come to an end by August or September 2015, but the contractors insisted that they need at least six more months to finish. 

The contractors who briefed the Minister of Roads and Transport, Dzifa Attivor during her recent working visit to Tamale to inspect the ongoing project, said construction of the runway had delayed due to huge deposits of clay soil encountered by the company, and which required a considerable amount of time to remove all of it.

Proposed Outlook After Completion of Work
Mrs. Attivor expressed disappointment about the failure of the contractors to complete the first phase of the project on the set date. She said she expected the timeline for completion of the project to be met so that pilgrims to Mecca could fly direct from Tamale so as to save them time and money by travelling to Accra.

The first phase of the project involves the extension of the current runway from 2,480 metres to 3,940 metres and the installation of a complete lighting system to enable aircrafts land and takeoff in the night. 

Mrs. Attivor told the contractors that the government would not accept any additional cost for any extra work being done. The Minister was also confident that the yet to be completed Tamale International Airport would to a large extent, bring a lot of economic benefits to northern Ghana through foreign investments and a boost in the tourism industry. 

The Project Manager of Queiroz Galvao Constructions, Mr. Ruben Claudio Weto said the first phase of the project was at its last stage and was confident work would be completed by six months time.

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