Some residents of Sumbrungu, a suburb of the Bolgatanga Municipality in the Upper East Region on Monday embarked on a demonstration to protest a planned relocation of a regional airport to a neigbouring community at Sherigu.
They carried placards with the inscriptions,”’Mr. Minister why relocate airport”, “Don’t disorganise our proposed airport”, “It was there before you came”, “President Nana your Minister is not serious” and the airport must be sited at Sumbrungu.”
They marched to the project site and later came back to convene a press conference at the Sumbrungu Catholic social centre. The press conference was attended by the chiefs, Tindanaas (land owners), the youth and members of the development association of Sumbrungu and a cross-section of residents of the area.
Addressing the media, their spokesperson, Mr. Elias Ayinbila Apasiya said the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Rockson Ayine Bukari was deliberating devising ways and means to divert the attention of the sector Minister, Mrs. Cecilia Abena Dapaah to move the airport project from the old site where a significant amount of resources have been invested .
He said, when the sector Minister paid a working visit to the region on May 19, 2017, the Upper East Regional Minister did not send her to the airport project site under construction at Anateem near Sumbrungu.
Mr. Apasiya said land for the airport project was acquired by the government over 30 years ago and that the chiefs and people of Sumbrungu willingly offered the land to government for the construction of the airport. “Technical feasibility studies and assessment was conducted which comprised the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority,
The Ghana AirForce, Lands Commission, Town and Country Planning Department, among others. The report of this technical team showed that the area was suitable and infact more than appropriate for the construction of the airport”. He said an initial 2,853.72 hectares of land was given to government in the early 1990s with an offer to release vast land in order to meet the total land area for the construction of the airport.
He said site plans were developed, economic trees and farmlands cleared and access roads to the site were constructed. “The works were awarded in 2-lots. Lot-1 was the construction of 1000m/60m runway and the contractor was Messrs Alhaji Awudu Ali and Lot-2 was the construction of 1550m/60m runway and the contractor was Messrs Alhaji Taninu Depote enterprise and the 9km road to the site was constructed by Alhaji Ghanim”.
The spokesperson indicated that government has invested huge sums of tax payers money into the project and they have information that 60 per cent of the total work has been done but the regional minister mislead her and she did not visit the site to see progress of work so far. Efforts to revive the project.
Mr. Apasiya said there have been several efforts by successive governments to continue the project but funding has always been a challenge.
He said the Rawlings government started the construction of the project and during the Kufour’s era, government set up a committee and they visited the site in an effort to continue with the project and both Atta Mills and Mahaha were committed to the project with former President Mahama visiting the site in November 2013 and instructed that work should continue.
He said the recent visit by the Aviation Minister led by the Upper East Regional Minster indicated government was in search of a new site to construct an airport for the people of the Upper East Region when an original site was already under construction.
We therefore insist that the airport project should be continued. Failure to continue with the project, we will use all legitimate means to make sure that the project is continued”, he emphasised.