The Upper East Regional airport has faced challenges for over 30 years, with politicians from the NDC and NPP parties using it for political purposes. Despite promises made by President Akufo-Addo and his party during the 2016 campaign of making he completes the Upper East Regional Airport, the situation surrounding the airport still remains unchanged and stagnant.
The Paramount Chief of the Sakoti Traditional Area, Naba Sigri Bewong, on behalf the chiefs, Tindaamas, and well-meaning residents of the region, reminded President Nana Akuffo Addo of his promise to build the airport during the durbar of Chiefs.
“We would like to remind President Nana Akuffo Addo of his promise to complete the airport if elected into power, as he stated during his visit to the Sumbrungu Chiefs Palace and the One-Village-One-Dam project launch in Bongo. As his second term is coming to an end, we kindly appeal to him to honor his promise and allocate resources to continue and complete the construction of the airport”.
The Chief emphasized the frustration and despair felt by the people of the Upper East Region, as it is the only region without a functional airport. The Chiefs expressed their disappointment in successive governments’ lack of political and financial commitment to the project and urged the President to honor his promise and allocate resources for its construction.
They also called for a revisit of the technical assessments and the development of partnerships with private investors. The Chiefs highlighted the need for an airport to attract investment and drive development in the region, particularly due to the discovery of valuable resources.
They commended the efforts of the Upper East Regional Minister and called on all individuals to support the cause. The durbar of chiefs at the airport site was described the largest since the project began in the 1970s and 80s.
The Upper East Regional Minister expressed his determination to see the construction of an airport in the region. He revealed that his efforts have brought investors from France, Morocco, and China. He emphasized the unity of the people and called for their support in bringing an airport to the Upper East Region.
“Am very that now, I will not be fighting for the airport alone, I will be fighting it with all these people behind me and am very pleased. Now, I know that the chiefs and the people of Upper East are all behind me; I know that both NPP, NDC, CPP, and those who don’t even belong to any party are behind me. So, let us fight together, let us bring the airport to Upper East because we also deserve to also drive for a few kilometers to come here and also take a plane to Accra or anywhere else”. The Minister said.
Gabriel Agambila, Chairman of the Airport Development Committee, expressed his disappointment with politicians who have consistently used the promise of an airport in the Upper East Region as a means to gain votes during elections.
He shared the story of a foreign investor he had brought to the region, who ultimately decided to establish his business in Accra instead. This missed opportunity would have provided much-needed employment for the youth and residents of the region.
It must again be noted that the government identified and compulsorily acquired 7051.44 acres or 2,8853.72 hectares of this land for the development of an airport for the region in the late 1970s and early 1980s after the proximity of Paga airstrip to Ghana’s border with Burkina Faso made it diplomatically and security-wise unsuitable for military and civil aviation purposes. When this land was identified, the Chiefs and Tindaama of this community, in the spirit of development and patriotic nationalism, willingly released the land for the project and relocated at their cost. Farmlands and other economic trees such as Shea nuts trees were destroyed to pave the way for the projects and hence rendered many farmers and women economically inactive since their source of livelihoods were dependent on farmlands and economic trees.
Madam Caroline Kurugu, Secretary to the committee, the Bongo chief, regional chief Imam, and other dignitaries from the region were also present at the event.