President John Dramani Mahama has commissioned the first phase of the upgraded Tamale Airport in the Northern Region.
He also interacted with the first batch of prospective pilgrims yesterday and bid them farewell ahead of their journey to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj.
Three flights will transport 1,500 would-be pilgrims from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through NasAir 747 series, the official carrier of the 2016 Hajj from 19-21 August.
Dignitaries, who graced the occasion, included the National Chief Imam Sheikh Nuhu Sharubutu, Minister for Transport Fifi Kwetey, Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
Some prospective pilgrims, who spoke to DAILY GUIDE, said they were happy to be flying directly from Tamale to Saudi Arabia.
When DAILY GUIDE visited the Hajj Village in Tamale, traders were seen doing brisk business at the place.
Personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Police, Immigration, Ambulance Service, Narcotic Control Board, Customs Division, were all on standby to handle any emergency case at the Hajj Village.
Transporting pilgrims from Tamale is better than people travelling about 10 hours to Accra and staying there for weeks at a high cost so it’s a plus that government has taken this initiative, the Airport Manager, Charles Asare, said.
He mentioned that the Tamale Airport would serve as the second international airport to help officials deal with any emergency at Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
“We are building infrastructure to make Ghana the aviation hub in the sub-region.”
According to him, Ghana has the only aircraft shop located in Tamale in the whole of the sub-region.
Mr Asare stated that the Tamale Airport would create economic opportunities for the citizens.
Some pilgrims were prevented from sending yams to Saudi Arabia.
Mr Asare said the Hajj Committee informed pilgrims about the type of foodstuffs that they could transport to Saudi Arabia.
He advised pilgrims to adhere to the laid down rules in order to go through the process smoothly, adding that if officials of Immigration and Customs detect any unwanted products, they would be removed.
From Eric Kombat, Tamale