Aviation sector faces shutdown as staff protest encroachment of airport lands

Days after staff and union leaders of the Ghana Airport Company Limited hoisted red flags and banners at the company in demand for removal of their Managing Director for the company Yaw Kwakwa, their colleagues from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority are also embarking on a protest over encroachment of their lands.

The GCAA staff are protesting what they term grabbing of lands of the authority. They warn the country’s Aviation Sector risks shutdown if immediate steps are not taken to safeguard lands crucial for the operations of the GCAA.

The workers have been agitating over attempts to cede lands meant for their equipment for air traffic navigations among other activities to private developers. About 2 months ago the workers laid down their tools prompting intervention from National Security Minister Albert Kan Dapaah.

In a statement, the union leaders of the GCAA staff argued any attempt to give away lands of the authority will gravely affect the country’s Aviation sector.

“The Aviation industry is dynamic and driven by technology. This means that new technology may spring up which requires a piece of land for its implementation. Some parcels of land must therefore be set aside for those purposes. Non-availability of land for these installations will mean there is no future for aviation in Ghana,” the leaders warned.

The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has two parcels of land in Accra for aviation development. These are the about 90-acre land at Cantonments, mostly referred to as “La wireless” and the about 614-acre land at La Nkwantanang, popularly referred to as “Aviation Lands”.

The workers explain the La Nkwantanang land was acquired by an Executive Instrument for aviation purposes, while the La Wireless one was leased by the then governor for Radio and communication in aviation. The La Wireless lease will expire in 2047, but it is subject to renewal.

Government through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has led renegotiations with the La Traditional Council to allocate the GCAA lands for private development. A move the workers have vowed to resist

“It must be noted that as a coalition of Union and Profession Associations of GCAA we do not recognise any previous negotiations and agreements concerning Aviation lands entered into and consider such, as null and void, since key stakeholders were not involved.”

The staff want the National Security Minister to take steps to secure the GCAA lands.

“To avoid future encroachment and trespass, we kindly request that titles to these lands are duly regularised in the name of the Authority by assigning an Officer from the Ministry of National Security to assist in this regard”.

According to the workers, the La Wireless land “is housing our Transmitters and other auxiliary facilities, Engineering training school, The Office of the Independent Accident Investigation Bureau, staff bungalows for technical staff working on these facilities and Directors bungalows.”

The statement further warned Ghana’s neighbouring countries are laying in wait to further take advantage of any slip regarding the country’s air system navigation control.

“Togo, Benin and Lagos are still monitoring our equipment to justify a takeover of Ghana Airspace” given earlier challenges the GCAA had with the construction of the AU village on lands housing it’s critical equipment.

The workers have also expressed shock at attempts to eject technical staff living in bungalows on the GCAA lands ostensibly to allow for takeover of these lands.

“On the La Wireless land, it is surprising to hear that our technical staff, who are called upon at odd times to attend to faults on these equipment, have been asked to vacate their premises and relocate to places far from these installations. Who will then attend to faults when they occur and what will be the response time? Ironically as our staff are being asked to vacate the place, provision is being made to build residential accommodation for private individuals.”

The workers, therefore, appealed to government to halt the attempts to dissipate the lands of GCAA “We are appealing to the government to intervene and stop Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and Lands Commission from supervising the sharing of aviation lands so that government’s vision and policy on aviation can be achieved.”

According to the union leaders, no concrete actions have been taken so far to address their concerns regarding the lands belonging to the authority hence their decision to protest today.

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