President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Thursday, cut the sod for the commencement of the 2nd Phase of the Tamale Airport project, which is expected to be completed in 30 months.
The Tamale International Airport, when completed, will complement the Kotoka International Airport in Accra.
Significantly, it is also expected that the completion of the project will make Tamale the centre of Hajj-related activities in the country and will facilitate seamless travels from Ghana directly to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Akufo-Addo said the construction of an ultra-modern terminal building, together with a multi-purpose Hajj facility, and other ancillary facilities, would provide the needed impetus for increased economic and trading activities in the region.
He said it would also reinforce the status of Tamale as a sub-Saharan hub for flights to and from neighbouring West African countries and the Sahel Region.
It will encompass the following elements design for the scope of works; construction of a modular airport terminal building of approximately 5,000 square metres, which is expandable in the future; construction of a Hajj facility of approximately 1,000m2; construction of a single carriageway access road; construction of landside and airside infrastructure adapted to the terminal size; and construction of water, power and sewerage infrastructure deemed necessary for normal operations.
"Funding for this project has been secured, made possible by facilities from UK Export Finance and KfW IPEX-Bank of Germany, for which we are grateful. Advance mobilization has been processed for payment to the contractors," he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, "Thirty months is thirty months, and the contractors must deliver the project on schedule to avoid any cost overruns. Compensation has been paid to all persons and groups affected by this project, and, so, we anticipate a very smooth project cycle."
As part of the government's resolve to increase domestic aviation activities, the President indicated that a host of other projects were on-going, and these include Phases 2 and 3 of Kumasi Airport and the rehabilitation of Sunyani Airport.
"In addition to the development of infrastructure for the domestic aviation sector, the elimination, in 2017, by Government of the 17.5% VAT on domestic ticket sales has reduced the cost of tickets, and doubled the frequency of domestic air travels. We are determined to boost the domestic aviation industry," he added.
President Akufo-Addo urged the operators and regulators of the country's airports, as well as the Lands Commission, to sit up and ensure that lands, belonging to the country's airports, were managed properly and duly protected, not only for future projects of expansion but also for safeguarding lives and property.
To Yaa Na Mahama Abukari II, who was present at the event, the President stated that "I assure you that this project is a sign of greater things to come for Tamale and the Northern Region and, indeed, for the whole nation. The government's commitment to the development of all parts of Ghana, without discrimination, is absolute."