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General News Fri, 13 May 2005

GCAA Still Quiet on FAA Ban

May 13 (Joy Online) -- The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is yet to officially respond to the decision by the US Federal Aviation Authority to downgrade its safety ratings.

The decision means that direct flights from Ghana will not be allowed into the US.

Persistent efforts by JOY News for officials of the authority to respond to the issues of safety raised by the FAA not yielded any response.

A press conference scheduled for last Wednesday to explain the matter was also called off.

JOY NEWS sources say words are still being strung together into a press statement that could soon be issued.

Here is a litany of the sins the GCAA will have to answer for.

The Kotoka International Airport was one of only 5 airports in Africa to have the FAA accreditation to fly direct to the USA.

That called for a comprehensive development programme of refurbishing the terminal building and control tower, the provision of a proper lounge and a modern arrival/immigration and baggage hall.

That programme is still underway. The runway has been extended by 500 metres. A new freight terminal has been built and expanded to cater for the increasing volume of cargo passing through.

Does the FAA?s announcement suggest a waste of the crucial foreign currency invested in the exercise?

It?s common to look on as people abuse the VIP lounge, which has become a facility for persons other than VIPs. Self-styled Bishops, business tycoons with the right political connections, wives of ministers and their children and personal assistants among others now use the VIP lounge.

Sources suggest that the misuse of the VIP lounge is one clear example that the usual security checks are evaded despite the GCAA?s claim to a tight security regime.

That the airport?s safety and security has been compromised is not questionable. Countless numbers of drug courier are arrested frequently at checkpoints.

Needless to say many more go through without any let or hindrance. A recent effort at streamlining parking arrangements at the airport often results in mayhem. The parking lots are often scenes of chaos as drivers argue with attendants manning computerized tollbooths for abandoning their posts.

Stowaways are frequently busted which says little for the safety and security of the airport besides its implications for hundreds of passengers going aboard flights.

Last January an American woman was extradited to Ghana after she escaped from a police station on drug charges. How she managed to get onto a flight back to America after she was busted for drugs in Ghana is left to your imagination.

Indeed, these are only a few out of a litany of sins that the GCAA will have to defend when it finally decides to speak. And it?s obvious it will need to look beyond the FAA?s concerns about safety and the lowering of its rating from Category 1 to 2.

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