Payment to Wa Airstrip contractor to be suspended – Aviation Minister

The runway of the Wa airstrip. Some encroachers on the land [Inset][/caption]Final payment to the contractor working on the Wa Airstrip in the Upper West Region is to be suspended until it has given Ghanaians value for their money, Aviation Minister Cecilia Abena Dapaah has revealed. The minister who visited the airstrip Thursday to inspect the scope of work done so far observed there were few areas that needed to be put right by contractor before final payment of monies are made by the government. “…If there is value for money, we all have seen it, if there is no value for money, We have all have seen it. We have detected a few areas that the contractor needs to put right… I told him [contractor], he is willing to work on them before his final payment and I am going to insist on that, that we get value for our money,” Ms Dapaah told journalists during the tour of the facility. The contract for the rehabilitation of the Wa Airstrip, which boasts of two-kilometre runway, was awarded to Messrs Skill Link Limited on March 14, 2016 and was to be completed on September 15, 2016. The rehabilitation was necessitated by the government’s intent to open up the Upper West Region for commercial flight services to reduce travel time through air route as a means of boosting commerce and business in the region. Work on the airstrip included turning the new Ghana Airports Company building into a passenger terminal building, construction of access road to the airport, fencing works to define the boundaries of the airport, fixing drainage works to control erosion at the airstrip and marking the runway to improve upon visual aids. Addressing journalists after her tour, Ms Dapaa said “the tarmac has been there, they did some work; markings on it but the actual terminal building we have a few issues with that”. She observed some minor works have not met the standard to qualify the airstrip for domestic flights and has called on the contractor to rework on them before payment. It emerged that woods were used in some parts of the building to make the facility disability friendly, which the minister insisted must be done using concrete to make it durable. She said contractors ought to do quality work to be praised by the public in other to attract them more jobs, insisting Ghanaians want value for money. Ms Dapaa said they will meet with the airline operators to get them to operate on the Wa route, noting that before the airstrip becomes operational, they will make sure the Ghana National Fire Service gets a Fire Station there “because we don’t want to compromise on safety”.

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Encroachment The minister assured that her outfit will collaborate with stakeholders to demolish structures that have encroached on the airstrip lands to ensure the safety of the residents. The issue of ownership of the said land has been in court after some 300 houses were earmarked for demolishing in August 2013 by government. Meanwhile, earlier in the day Ms Dapaah paid a courtesy call on the Upper West Regional Minister, Alhassan Sulemana, who expressed joy that the beginning of domestic flights to Wa will boost the region’s economy. At the Wa Naa’s Palace, a representative of the overlord of the Waala Traditional area, Wa naa Fuseni Seidu Pelpuo IV, Guli Naa Seidu Braimah, called on the government to speed up efforts in making sure the Wa Airstrip is operational to prevent armed robbery attack on road travellers . He also said the government given a new land for expansion of the airstrip into a full airport that can later qualify it to be an international airport. By Yakubu Abdul-Gafur||Ghana]]>