Ethiopia’s Gambella Airport installs a US$1.3m tower

Ethiopia’s Gambella Airport has installed a US$1.3m advanced Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower that directs aircrafts during takeoff and landing.

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) constructed the tower with the aim of expediting the movement of the increasing traffic jams at the Airport.

Atem Building Contractor, a grade one contractor, completed construction in two years. The company previously worked on two thirteen-storey, middle-income housing projects. The company also worked on two more projects at Jinka University. Additionally, the company carried out the concrete and electro-mechanical works of the tower.

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To make the tower fully operational, the procurement for communications, navigation, and surveillance systems was done overseas. However, according to Animut Lemma, Promotion and Public Relations Director at the Authority, the equipment will support seamless global air traffic management system.

“The project experienced delay for some times due to security issues of the Airlines hindering easy and flexible access to the construction site,” said Habtamu Ashine, Aerodrome Engineering Section Supervisor, during the handover ceremony of the project, held on September 20, 2017.

Along with Gambella, the construction of six more towers are underway, and eight towers Gode, Bale Robe, Assosa, Kombolcha, Semera, Shire Endasillassie, Jinka, and Hawassa to commence in the future.

Airport terminal location

Located 711Km away from the Capital, Gambella Regional State has an estimated area of 29,782sqm. Having a total population of 307,096, of which 25 per cent are urban dwellers. The number of flights to Gambella airport has increased from three times a week to twice a day.

The airport demanded a safe, smooth and comfortable system to adequately accommodate the need; this is according to Tewodros Dawit, the CEO of the Ethiopian Airport Enterprise (EAE).

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During the past five years, the number of domestic flights has increased by 30 per cent. This is due to the economic growth of the country as well as the investment growth in the region; which has finally instigated the installation of new technologies at the terminals, according to Tewodros.

Gambella and the other terminals are administered by the Enterprise; it recently merged with Ethiopian Airlines. Since its establishment in 2003, the Enterprise has built 14 airports out of the existing 20. The others were constructed before its inception.

Now, it is undertaking an expansion project at Bole International Airport at the cost of US $342. It has also completed the construction of Shire and Jinka airport runways at a cost of 971mn Br recently.

Among the total number of airports, four of them: Bole (Addis Ababa), Dire Dawa, Bahir Dar, and Mekelle are of international status.

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