The massive infrastructural works that have gone on at the Kotoka International Airport, KIA, Accra over the past years comes to a head with the official commissioning of the Terminal 3 building anytime soon.
Over the past four years, the Kotoka International Airport has been the beneficiary of several infrastructural expansion and upgrade projects. But the most ambitious and indeed most important one has been the construction of a third passenger terminal.
This building by the Ghana Airports Company Limited has in one fell swoop positioned the airport to accommodate bigger planes including the expected growth in passenger volumes and baggage in the coming years thereby making it West Africa’s aviation hub.
to come with a view to enabling it serve as the preferred aviation hub in the West African sub region as a whole.
Terminal 3 is the biggest and most modern of the two other terminals and is therefore the most important. It has the capacity to handle 1,25O million passengers an hour, totaling 5m passengers a year. It is equipped with six boarding bridges, a large commercial and retail area, three business lounges and purpose built transit facilities.
In 2013, it was decided that there must be a new terminal to serve asan to Terminal 2, which was then on the drawing board. Secondly Terminal 2 was suffering from overuse hence the constant breakdowns especially at the arrival hall with the issue assuming national security concerns.
It was clear to the management of the airport and government that there will be disruption of traffic and cost overruns that will be associated with the refurbishment of a terminal which has clearly seen better days. Subsequently the board decided to to build a new terminal altogether. With the support of government, and the availability of funds, work started in earnest.
Work began in 2014 with all pointers to completition date of early 2O18, and will serve as a an example of what the country can achieve with medium to long term infrastructural project development when political partisanship is put aside and replaced with national ambition.
Immediate past President John Dramani Mahama cut the sod to signal the commencement of work, accompanied by his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is now due to be commissioned by incumbent President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who succeeded him.
Both the Mahama and the Akufo-Addo administrations are deserving of unreserved commendation, one for starting the project, and other for completing it. The project was handed over smoothly from the one to the other at the start of 2O17, and the quality of project implementation by both is evidenced by the fact that it has been completed just a few months after its originally scheduled completion date of July 2O17.
Importantly there has been virtually no squabbling between officials of both administrations over their respective roles in the project’s roll out, whether financial or operational.
But the loudest applause will be reserved for the GACL itself as a state owned enterprise, but one which has exhibited exemplary corporate conduct with regards to financing commercially viable projects using its own balance sheet and borrowing on commercial terms. Here, Charles Asare, under whose tenure as Managing Director the project was envisioned and initiated and John Attafuah who completed it as his successor, stand out for their leadership and contributions to its successful implementation.
Financing for the project was provided in part from a US$200 project million loan provided by the African Development Bank, Development Bank of South Africa and Ghana Infrastructure Fund with a 15 year tenor and in part from part of a US$200 million syndicated commercial loan provided by a consortium of local and foreign banks led by Ecobank Ghana Limited.
The loans were provided to GACL without any support or Ghana government guarantee and it was for a wider infrastructural agenda of GACL, which includes expansion and upgrade of other parts of the KIA as well as the rehabilitation and upgrade of other airports around the country and the development of new ones, notably Ho Airport.
Indeed, this has brought GACL recognition as arguably the most outstanding SOE in Ghana since Charles Asare was appointed as CEO in 2014, a position which he retained through a change of political administration and inevitable change at the helm of the company itself.
Importantly, in order to prepare itself to seek and secure financing from the capital market, GACL rebranded itself as customer service driven and commercially run organization, adopted International Financial Reporting Standards to make it compliant with the requirements of the financial markets.
Further, the company adopted best-practices in all aspects of its airport operations and customer service. Just as importantly, the company has returned to consistent profitability, leveraging on strongly growing revenues which makes it and its projects an attractive proposition for investors and lenders alike.
KIA’s Terminal 3 is a monumental feat of engineering. It has five levels spread across 45,000 square meters and has parking space for 700 cars. It has six contact stands for Code E aircraft and two remote stands. At the Departure level it has 56 check-in desks, 30 passport control centres and eight security lanes.
At the arrival level it has 24 immigration counters, four e-gate positions [expandable to eight] and four reclaim devices.
The terminal is equipped with a fully automated baggage handling system to handle both destination and transit luggage at 3,5OO bags an hour.
For Ghanaians who look at their country’s development through non-partisan lens, the completion of KIA’s Terminal 3 is a vindication of their stance. For the many who do not though, the debate over who should take the credit is only just beginning.
Which ever way you look at it, the GACL KIA Terminal 3 Project is a commendable project and an asset to Ghana