A second international airport for the country is an exciting piece of news, if the venture is economically viable.
The cutting of the sod to flag off commencement of work on the Tamale Airport to raise its status to international standards should ordinarily be welcomed. Not so, however, when important questions bordering on the economic viability of the project against the backdrop of some more critical jobs in the Northern Region beg for attention.
The definite lining of the pockets of some personalities on the corridor of power, when such projects are being considered, is another disturbing factor when such ventures get the green light.
Indeed, Tamale, as the fastest growing city in the country, would one day require an airport of such standards. Not now when basic demands of urbanisation are unattended to.
Our intention is not to condemn the project, not at all. But to look at what is at stake dispassionately so that in the end we would prompt an objective national conversation and get better value for money. It is doubtful whether such a project, given the level of business in the region and patronage, can recoup the investment in a reasonable period of time.
With an annual traffic of some 200,000, such a facility would be underutilised and therefore suffer the disadvantages which go with underutilisation.
While we acknowledge the temporary employment opportunities that the project would offer the local youth, this is unsustainable to be of substantial significance.
Discussions about projects are always delicate and sensitive, given the likely misconstruing of issues raised by persons who stand to gain by such action. We would rather the money being pumped into the project is used elsewhere in the region and not in a white elephant.
A couple of days ago or so, Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor sounded unconvincing with her responses when she fielded questions from journalists.
Fresh vegetable airlift from Tamale to the outside world sounds ambitious at a time when we are yet to catch up with the production levels of Burkina Faso in this regard.
Talking about vegetable export, we think that building our capacity for production through irrigation and wherewithal is a critical factor in order to compete on the frenetic international market, full of tough ISO quality demands. Should the minister be talking about this advantage now when we depend largely on rain-fed agriculture?
We want government to improve the quality of the road network, including feeder roads in the north?the absence of which has robbed farmers of their deserving dues from their back-straining toils in the scorching sun.
Our compatriots in the north stand to gain better with the creation of sustainable job opportunities than the establishment of a white elephant, the underutilisation of which would be a subject of future discussion.