Kumasi, Ghana’s second biggest city, was ushered into a brand new life last night 15th December 2014 when President John Dramani Mahama and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu ll jointly inaugurated the aeronautical ground lighting ( AGL ) system at the Kumasi International Airport (KIA) at a ceremony characterised by extraordinary fanfare.
The $4.9 million project forms part of the major refurbishment that has transformed Kumasi into an international airport. On a rare night, President Mahama made the symbolic first landing with the presidential jet from Abuja, Nigeria, where he had attended the 46th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government..
His arrival at the airport opened the gates for the Kumasi International Airport to start operating 24 hours. As the presidential jet taxied to a stop at 9.25pm, the profoundly enthusiastic crowd that had waited for well over five hours for the President burst into spontaneous jubilation.
Before yesterday, the airport operated from 6am to 6pm. New lease of life Although the airport attained international status as far back as 2003, it remained on paper as it lacked some basic facilities. The airport has also seen a major rehabilitation of the runway at the cost of $29 million. In 2013, the government of Ghana embarked upon a phased development of the Kumasi Airport to provide the requisite infrastructure for safe domestic and international operations in lauding night operations.
The first phase was what was inaugurated yesterday. With the new lease of life, the 71-year-old airport is set to accommodate bigger aircraft and begin the process to turn Ghana into an aviation hub in the sub-region.
Many saw the emergence of Ghana’s second international airport in Kumasi as a major step towards boosting the economy of the Garden City in particular and the Ashanti Region in general. President Mahama In his inaugural speech, President Mahama said his government was determined to accelerate the development of the country and in doing that the aviation sector would receive all the necessary attention. The President who could not hide his excitement and danced to melodious songs by Amakye Dede and Daddy Lumba, said the Kumasi Airport would continue to playa major role in national economic development and indicated the government’s readiness to give it the due attention.
Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu spoke about the importance of Kumasi in national development and said the upgrading of the airport was well deserving of the city. He said the day was a happy one for Kumasi and Asanteman.
He thanked President Mahama and his government profoundly for the project, expressing the hope that the project would tremendously promote the development of Asanteman. The Minister of Transport, Mrs Dzifa Attivor, thanked Otumfuo for his support for the project.