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Need to expand air travel within Ghana Need to expand air travel within Ghana

You will normally expect the dominance of air travel in large, spread-out countries with difficult terrains or obstacles. Ghana, generally, has none of these geographies.

So why the attention to air travel at all? In Ghana, while some people have the luxury of choice between various means of travel, the majority of Ghanaians can only afford to travel by road, mainly.

However, safety on our roads is worrying, if the statistics are anything to go by. According to the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), in the year 2020, when strict restrictions were placed on all travels in Ghana, 1,115 people, still lost their lives on our roads. Already, 544 Ghanaians, still counting, have died on our roads in 2023.

In the view of NRSA, the main cause of road accidents are; poor nature of our roads, carelessness of road users, faulty vehicles, stress, unskilled drivers, inadequate road signs, inefficient MTTU personnel, speeding, lack of education, drunkenness, and gross indiscipline.

Looking through the list, you would easily pin down the nature and character of the Ghanaian, as the main culprit. Therefore, this unfortunate situation defiles immediate solution. What then is the way forward? You would probably might have heard that, airplanes are by far the safest means of transportation.

This fact is arrived at when the number of transported passengers are measured against personal injuries and fatality totals in an accident; according to Google website of the same topic, monitored on May 15, 2023 at 9:00 am.

The same website said, accidents are rare in aviation. There were just five fatal air accidents out of 32.2 million flights in 2022. Willie Walsh, Director General of International Transportation Association said, flying is among the safest activities in which a person can engage.

In other words, the odds are very low indeed, that you would die in a plane crash. Air accidents may soon be a thing of the past (My hope).

An interesting quote from Google said; "Flying, has become so safe that, we have run out of accidents to cover, so now, it is animations of when accidents didn't happen". What about Ghana?

The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the mandated institution to manage civil/commercial air transportation in Ghana, has the silver bullet to launch an efficient internal or domestic air transport. Regulating Ghana Airport Company to undertake the task.

The GCAA showed at Google website of same heading that, since 2017, there have not been any air fatalities in Ghana. In contrast, you will recall that 544 people have already died on our roads this year.

So overwhelmingly, air transportation must be developed to serve all corners of Ghana. But what must be the modalities?

First, some amount of education needs to be put in place. The life of most people seems so far from aviation, such that, all the safety stories of travel by airplane must be told repeatedly.

This phobia for air travel can be found all over the world. Education must form one of the preludes to any campaign encouraging people to take to the air.

The other important preliminary would be the rehabilitation and construction of new aerodromes or airports. Aerodromes are airports with only basic facilities. We immediately think about costs. I expect government to lead the private sector in this endeavour.

A road journey from, say Accra to Kumasi is about 250 km long. However, a runway to receive a plane carrying passengers to Kumasi needs to be just a few kilometres long, indeed the, international airport in Kumasi, is less than 2km in length.

So, technically, all being equal, the cost of constructing one road, as in the example, can equally construct 125 runways. It is easier and cheaper to construct a runway than build a road.

Technical support can be obtained from the many well-trained aviation technicians, who retire every year from the Ghana Air Force and elsewhere.

I want to believe that, district assemblies would be more than willing to have aerodromes from their own resources, if they are educated on the benefits.

By the same reasoning, goverment's expenditures on road constructions would reduce, if funds are diverted to aerodrome and airport constructions.

Now some analysis of airports and aerodromes allocations, within Ghana.

Out of the10 original regions in Ghana, three are without aerodromes/airports; Cape Coast, Koforidua and Bolgatanga.

Cape Coast is less than 10 minutes flight from Accra and about the same time from Takoradi Airport. This pushes the central regional capital to the back burner of priorities, but survey of other parts of Central Region would help unearth suitable sites for airport/aerodrome.

Koforidua, is also too close to Accra to merit priority status, but other areas in the Eastern Region, need to be considered. Bolgatanga, however, deserves an airport to serve Upper East and perhaps, North East regions. The only difficulty with Bolgatanga is its proximity to the international boundary of Burkina Faso

Any new airport in Bolgatanga, therefore, needs to be sited such that, there will be enough room for aircraft maneuvers which will avoid international boundary violations. So that the problems experienced with Paga airstrip will not be repeated.

Source: allAfrica.com