US military uses portions of Terminal One - Aviation Minister

File photo

The Minister of Aviation, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, has said portions of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) Terminal One are being used by McDan Aviation to provide logistical support for the United States of America (USA) military.

Responding to a question on the floor of Parliament yesterday, the minister said the arrangement between McDan and the USA formed part of the defence cooperation agreement signed with the US and approved by Parliament in 2018.
National security

But for the Minority in Parliament, such an arrangement between a third party private body and the US government, which had national security implications, was contrary to the Ghana-US Enhanced Defence Agreement which required a state-to-state arrangement.

The question was posed by the NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Adaklu, Mr Kwame Agbodza, who wanted to know the current status of the KIA Terminal One in terms of current and future operations.
Mr Adda told the House that the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) had rented out the ground floor of Terminal One to McDan Aviation for use as a Logistic Operations Centre for a period of 15 years, from January 2019.

Logistics services

He said pursuant to Ghana’s agreement with the US, McDan had also signed a management agreement with the US military and provided logistics and handling services for the US military through Terminal One.
The minister’s answer triggered further questions from Mr Agbodza, who wondered why the GACL, an agency under the Ministry of Aviation, had gone ahead to sign an agreement with the US military and wanted to know whether the minister was aware of that agreement.

He asked whether McDan operated any other services from Terminal One, apart from the management contract with the US military, and whether the agreement was subject to the authority of regulatory bodies at the airport, such as inspection by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Immigration and the Narcotics Control Board.

Besides, he asked the minister whether his ministry was party to the agreement between the US military and McDan, since the facility belonged to the government
No infringement

In his response, Mr Adda explained that the GACL was a limited liability company and an agency of the Ministry of Aviation and could embark on all kinds of initiatives that would turn the fortunes of the company around.

“We are aware of the initiative to undertake this engagement and I think it is a good one as far as the board’s recommendations are concerned,” he said.

He said the agreement between McDan and the US military did not infringe on any Ghanaian procurement process, adding that the US military undertook its own procurement arrangements to identify the company that was most suited to undertake the services it required.

“Based on their own internal processes, they recommended McDan as the company that can handle services for them,” he told the House.

Internal procurement process

Mr Adda indicated that per the briefing he had received, the company that took over the procurement process internally for the US defence assessed submissions from McDan, Swiss Port and a number of other companies, but “they ended up giving part of it to McDan for Terminal 1, with Swiss Port handling the other”.

“So this is an internal procurement process within the US defence. We have signed an agreement with them but they undertake their own procurement process that meets their standards and they engage local entities that are delivering those services they require and make sure they are in line with what they do in the US,” he explained.

Payment of rent

On the rent McDan would pay for the 15-year period it would use Terminal 1, the minister said the company would pay $354,480 per year, subject to renewal every two years.

With regard to operations, he said, McDan operated a number of services, including fixed-based operations “which, in simple parlance, means private jet operations”.

“They engage any private jet operator who wishes to land in Ghana and have its aircraft serviced. Secondly, as far as statutory requirements of the Ghana government are concerned, such as Immigration and Customs, McDan is mandated to make sure that these agencies take whoever or whatever is coming, whether passengers or cargo, through Customs and Immigration services,” Mr Adda said.

Procurement of scanners

When the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka, took his turn, he asked the minister whether the GACL still had security measures at Terminal 1, such as scanners and short circuit television, to check the movement of people and goods.

He also submitted that most of the developments at Terminal 1 were taking place on the blind side of the GACL, especially as most flights that came in were not recorded, and asked about the steps being taken to safeguard national security.

But Mr Adda expressed surprise at the suggestion that the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority was not in a position to know what was required, saying the authority was responsible for all flight controls, including those at Terminal 1.

“No aircraft lands in Ghana without the authority knowing it, and there is strong coordination among all the security agencies at the airport. The authority gives clearance before any aircraft, be it military or non-military, enters our airspace,” he told the House.

Beef security at the facility

The minister, however, acknowledged some lapses at the terminal, such as the breakdown of some short-circuit televisions and scanners, but gave an assurance that the GACL had procured a number of such equipment, including 12 scanners donated by China, that would be cleared from the port and installed soon.

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