The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia says it makes more economic sense to put an airport in the Central Regional capital of Cape Coast just like the one in the Volta Regional capital of Ho.
He says he finds it mind-bugling that the rekindling of the desire to build an airport in Cape Coast is now generating more debate than when the issue of Ho came up.
Dr Bawumia said this in a radio interview on Accra based Peace FM Tuesday morning which was monitored by Graphic Online.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) in its Election 2020 Manifesto has indicated its readiness to build an airport in Cape Coast and this has generated a public debate with some arguing that there was no need for an airport in Cape Coast which is just a three hour drive by road from Accra where the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) is located.
Some have said the government should rather concentrate on building a dual carriageway from Accra to Cape Coast or concentrate on building a rail network with others concluding that the NPP government was only using it as a political gimmick to win votes in the Central Region.
The talk about having an airport in Cape Coast is not new as it has come up in various discussions in the last 20 or 30 years hence some supporting the argument of an “election gimmick.”
On social media for instance, many have argued strongly for it considering the tourism potential of the region and the ability to help increase the influx of tourists and thereby turning the poor economy of the region around.
But appearing as a guest on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo morning show on Tuesday [August 25, 2020], and when he was asked for a comment, Vice President Bawumia agreed that it is not new but added “so many things have been going on for more than 20 years in Ghana and the time has come for us to put that up as a key policy to undertake.”
He said the tourism potential in Cape Coast makes it more economical to build an airport there and the government was going to try to get it done on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis if possible so that government does not really spend a lot of money in that direction and “so it is an idea whose time has come and I believe that the people of the Central Region deserve an airport.
He added, the decision to build an airport does not mean that the government will also not consider a dual carriageway or a rail network from Accra to Cape Coast.
“In fact there is more of a case for an airport in Cape Coast than there was for an airport in Ho… but I didn’t see a lot of a resistance to the airport in Ho as I am seeing to the airport in Cape Coast but in terms of the tourism potential, Cape Coast is bigger, fine, it is good that we have an airport in Ho, that is fine, but I’m just saying that the case, the economic case is stronger in Cape Coast, much, much stronger,” Dr Bawumia said.
He sarcastically said major policies in a manifesto are the ones which are expected to generate debate and really be interrogated by opponents and other people alike. The issue that he [Bawumia] would have thought would have come up more were the education and the likes but an airport in Cape Coast is what is generating debate.
“I think that from the way the manifesto preparation and presentation went, it means there is nothing else to talk about and you have to go and pick up [Cape Coast airport] as an issue after this major piece of work,” he said amidst laughter but insisted it “was also good, because, it allows us [NPP] to explain.
Dr Bawumia insisted that in the opinion of the NPP government, the issue of the Cape Coast airport was very important because historically, Cape Coast even used to be the capital of Ghana [Gold Coast].
“Cape Coast today, if you are talking about the history of slavery anywhere in the world, you study the history of slavery, you cannot tell the story about the history of slavery without talking about the history of Cape Coast, of all the forts and castles in Cape Coast.
“So in terms of the slavery issue, it is very big. You talk today for that matter about tourism, in this country, then Cape Coast is the tourism capital of Ghana, there is no other place that attracts as many tourists as Cape Coast. You talk education, and today, Cape Coast is the education capital of Ghana. So the amount of traffic, in terms of people that goes to Cape Coast is quite significant. And so if you are looking at trying to put in place infrastructure, to boost the economy of Cape Coast, you have to look at it long term and the tourism industry is one that is really important.”
“Tourists like convenience, I can fly into a place, I don’t have to come in and be in a three-hour journey on a bus to get to the place, so the airport will provide a lot of convenience for a lot of tourists who are coming in. It will help a lot and it will also boost other industry in and around Cape Coast as you have it.”
“So I think that the whole idea of boosting the place, you look at Accra, Kumasi, the Cape Coast-Takoradi area, that triangle, that area, has probably 60 percent of the population of Ghana,” the Vice President said.
On the issue of fixing the road instead, Dr Bawumia said that is also surely going to be done, “you need not only the road, but you also need rail. The way that we are thinking about the thing, you need major transportation infrastructure… there is no reason why you can’t work on the two [airport and road] at the same time,” Dr Bawumia said.
“You have to think long term, we are thinking rail and we are thinking road but that is going to be on the basis of that infrastructure to boost the economy of the Central Region. You know this is the 4th poorest region in Ghana.”
He said the airport will boost the economy of the region with the influx of people.