Welcome to Kumasi. Have a Nice Day!

One of the potholes of unknown size on the runway at Kumasi which lead to the closure of the airport.

An obruni turns to an obibini in the men’s room and says, “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice…”

No, wait! Wrong joke.

Okay. So the Kumasi airport was shut down with no warning on Saturday and after six days officials cannot say when it will reopen. The sound bytes in the news stories these past six day are a bit amusing to those of us not trying to get out of town. Not so funny to people traveling, trying to do business between Accra and Kumasi or those in the tourism industry. Not to mention the airlines.

Welcome to Kumasi. Only you can’t actually fly into Kumasi these days. Have a nice day!

Asuma Banda, the Chief Executive Officer of Antrak Air is particualry unhappy, having lost an estimated $300,000 since the closure. According to a news article, Banda blames the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA.) The official word from GCAA include lame assertions that they’ve closed the airport for our safety and that the “gaping potholes” were caused by rain. Nothing about when the airport will open. No word about what airport officials intend to do to prevent closures like this, this one being the third closure in the past year.

Granted, this is Africa so I shouldn’t be surprised. But seriously!

The opening story on September 29 is a gem:

Kumasi Airport Closed
The Kumasi Airport has been shut down temporarily for repair works to be undertaken on the runway.

Airport officials have confirmed to XYZ News that gaping potholes on the runway will be sealed during the repair works.
It is unclear how long the temporary closure will take.

In subsequent stories, routine checks were mentioned and a picture of the one of the gaping holes was released. Bob and I shook our heads. If these checks were being done on a daily basis (or at least weekly) it’s hard to imagine how a  hole like this could have developed. And if inspections weren’t occurring at least weekly, how can they call them routine?

Meanwhile, our house mates are planning trips abroad. Even if the airport is open in a couple of weeks, they are wondering if it might be prudent to take the six-hour bus trip than risk the plane flipping over after catching its wheels in a pothole.

In the absence of hard data, it’s easy to let our imaginations run away. But hard data is not to be had. We don’t know how big the holes are, for example. Although I gather the holes were not insignificant. When the Minister of Transport, Collins Dauda, looked at the damage he was shocked, saying “it is not a small hole, it is very deep and wide and I think this demands a lot of work at the place to fix the problem.”

Nor do we know how much weight the runways can handle. Or when they’ll let us know more…

Oh wait! This just in:

Kumasi Airport re-opens at 2PM today can confirm that the contractor working on the runway at the Kumasi Airport has completed work on the potholes that caused the airport to be closed down temporarily.

XYZ News’ Ashanti Regional Correspondent, Isaac Justice Bediako, reports that the construction firm has completed work on the runway and handed over the airport to the management.

The airport is expected to be opened at 2:00PM this afternoon to commence operations.

This will come as a welcome news for Airlines plying that route as the closure affected their operations.

The Minister for Transport had earlier indicated that the airport will be opened last Monday but the date had to be postponed as the repair works were more than expected.

Industry players have asked the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and the Airport authorities to run regular checks on the runways to prevent such future closures.

They have also called for a restriction on the sizes of planes that ply the airport in order to ensure that runway does not develop potholes in the future.

Well, okay then. I certainly do hope regular runway checks and weight restrictions are implemented. You know, for our safety.

Oh, and about that joke. Click on “continue reading” below if you must. : )

A young man named Jack, hopelessly in love with his girlfriend Wendy, decided to have her name tattooed on his love muscle. For obvious reasons, the tattoo was done while his member was erect, therefore most of the time all you could see were the letters W and Y. Shortly after the couple was married and were honeymooning in Jamaica, Jack found himself standing in a bathroom next to a Jamaican man. Jack accidentally looked down at the guy and could not help but notice that he ALSO had the letters W and Y tattooed.

Unable to contain himself, Jack says, “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice your tattoo which matches mine. What a coincidence! Do you also have a girlfriend named Wendy?”

“No, mon,” the Jamaican replies, laughing, “my tattoo says: Welcome To Jamaica Have a Nice Day”

Also, here is the text of the most comprehensive story to date from yesterday.

Asuma Banda Disputes GCAA’s Claims

Asuma Banda, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Antrak Air, has disputed claims by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) that the Kumasi Airport runway was damaged by recent downpour.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, he disclosed that the runway got damaged as a result of the landing of heavy aircraft and dared GCAA to challenge him if they think his assertions were untrue.

He explained that “a number of reasons have been given for the deterioration of the Kumasi runway. But all airlines including the GCAA and the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) are aware the primary reason is caused by heavier aircraft.”

He added that “landing heavy jets in Kumasi is like landing the A380 in Accra.”

He pledged to hold a demonstration if management of the GCAA does not take steps to prevent the damage of the Takoradi Airport runway in the Western region.

The maximum landing weight of the Saab 340A that CiTylink operated to Kumasi from 2003 to 2011 was 12925kg.

During the same period, Antrak operated the ATR 42-300 that has a maximum landing weight of 18300kg.

The ATR 72-500 that Antrak and Fly540 are currently operating has a maximum landing weight of 21850kg.

However,the BAe 146-300 has a maximum landing weight of 35153kg and also lands at higher speed than the turboprops.

Asuma Banda explained that the Kumasi Airport had been closed on three occasions for repair on the runway since September 2011.

Antrak, which is currently flying passengers to Sunyani in the Brong-Ahafo region before transporting them by bus to Kumasi, has lost about $300,000 since the closure the Kumasi Airport.

He said if GCAA dared him he would employ independent experts to access the situation, stressing that he would claim damages if experts confirm that the runway was damaged by heavy jets.

He expressed regret that the GCAA declined to attend the press conference, stressing that it knew it lied to the public.

All airlines operating in the country should have their representatives on the board of GCAA to ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are taken into account, Asuma Banda indicated.

“What message are you therefore sending to the public,” he quizzed.

He disclosed that though Alhaji Collins Dauda, the sector minister, was in the process of accessing the extent of damage, he was not a technocrat.

He called on government to employ technical persons to assist him in ascertaining the facts.

The Deputy Director of Ghana Airports Company Limited, John Q Amedior, said the government had released an amount of GH¢10 million for the rehabilitation works.

Mr. Amedior noted that his outfit had adopted measures to mitigate the repercussions

He was unsure when the Kumasi airport would be reopened for business but stated that the company was working around the clock to reopen the airport.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.