The Wa Airport is to be completed for commercial passenger operations next year, said Finance Minister Seth Terkper at his presentation of the 2016 Budget and Economic Policy of government delivered to Parliament last week.
“As part of government policy to have aerodromes/airstrips in all the 10 regions and create an efficient transport system to open up the country for socio-economic activities, the President cut the sod for development of an aerodrome at Ho. Preparatory works for the Wa aerodrome is on-going for domestic airline operations to commence in 2016,” he said.
There are currently five operational domestic airports in the country -- Kotoka International Airport’s Terminal One and the Kumasi, Sunyani , Takoradi and Tamale Airports.
The Wa airstrip, which was decades ago used for domestic services, has remained inappropriate for domestic flight over a long period now.
Domestic airline operators have cited the poor runway, lack of an adequate terminal building and other ancillary facilities for their inability to operate flights from Accra to the Upper West regional capital.
A significant number of the travelling passengers to Tamale do so for onward connections by road to the Upper East and Upper West Regions and Burkina Faso.
The distance from Tamale Airport to Wa and Bolgatanga is 194 miles and 100 miles respectively by road.
The Upper West Region has a population of about 577,000, representing about three percent of the national population. The regional capital, Wa, is home to some 224,000 people -- most of whom work with non-governmental organisations operating in the region, and are students of the Wa campus of the University of Development Studies (UDS).
The strategic importance of the region also lies with its intra-trading activities between the country and its northern neighbour, Burkina Faso.
The land-locked country relies on Ghana and other West African countries for its maritime imports, which are carted by land through the Upper West and Upper East Regions to the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou.
Mr. Terkper said the project, just like other on-going projects in the transport sector, is designed to be self-financing.
“In line with our new debt management policies, the airport and harbour project are designed on self-financing basis,” he said.
The Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), responsible for managing all civilian airports and aerodromes in the country, on the strength of its own balance sheet has secured US$150million to finance the construction of a new airport at Ho in the Volta Region, and to rehabilitate the Wa airstrip in the Upper West Region.
This follows the securing of US$250million from a consortium of banks led by Ecobank Capital for construction of a third terminal at Kotoka International Airport (KIA) earlier in the year.