By Dominick Andoh
The Kotoka International Airport has been closed to all international passenger flights for the next two weeks, as government steps up efforts to stem the tide of imported COVID-19 cases.
Soaring imported cases of the disease and recorded domestic infections have forced the hand of Ghana’s government to close all air, land and sea borders effective midnight on Sunday, March 22.
This follows similar measures taken by countries in the West African sub-region to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, and Senegal, have all closed their land, sea and air borders to help contain the spread of the disease.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in a national address on Saturday, March 21, announced the ban and expressed optimism it will help minimise imported cases of COVID-19.
“Firstly, all our borders, that is by land, sea and air, will be closed to human traffic for the next two weeks, beginning midnight on Sunday. Anybody who comes into the country, before midnight on Sunday, will be mandatorily quarantined and tested for the virus. This closure will not apply to goods, supplies and cargo,” he said.
Checks by Business24 also reveal that domestic flights will continue to be operated at the airport.
Regulator, airports operator to be ‘supported’
Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the industry regulator, and Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), the state-owned operator of airport infrastructure, may be supported to meet part of their overhead costs, following a steep decline in their revenues due to the impact of the pandemic.
Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda, in response to a question posed by Business24 about financial support to these agencies, said his ministry will encourage and entertain proposals on how to support the two institutions meet their recurrent expenditure.
“If this [flight bans due to the coronavirus outbreak] continues, our revenue levels will go down, our businesses will dwindle and the airports will be dry places in terms of passengers not coming through. The drastic impact on their bottom line is that they will not get revenue. If passengers are not coming, the GCAA and GACL will not get money, and they will not be able to expand their infrastructure and meet their operational expenses.
“The boards of some of these agencies are meeting, and they will be the ones to brainstorm on this and come up with strategies on how government can meet them half-way, if need be, to deal with this matter. We will also be thinking about how best to maintain the situation and make sure that the aviation sector doesn’t go down any further. We will encourage and entertain their ideas after their board meetings on the strategies that they will be proposing to us.”
Mr.Yaw Kwakwa, Managing Director of GACL, confirmed that the companyGACL is still assessing the impact of the situation on its finances and its ability to meet its recurrent expenditure.
“We are assessing the situation and we will make presentations to government through the Aviation Ministry when we are done,” Mr. Kwakwa said. ( Business24)