By Favour Nnabugwu
President Muhammadu Buhari, has vowed to make the country’s aviation industry a pride in Africa.
He said the federal government owed Chinese government $69.3million counterpart fund for the construction of four airports under the project.
The four airports are Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano.
The President, at the commissioning of the new terminal at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, NAIA, in Abuja, said his target was to make Nigerian Aviation industry a pride in the continent.
He said, “I wish to assure you therefore, that Government remains committed to developing Nigeria into Regional air transportation hub and thereby assuming its leadership in the aviation sub sector in Africa.”
“This Administration recognises aviation as a catalyst for economic growth and as such will continue to encourage and support the actualization of projects that will place Nigerian Airports amongst the best in the world.”
With the commissioning of the new Terminal, Buhari said that the country was moving towards achieving and meeting global aviation standards in facilitation, passenger processing and service delivery in tandem with international best practices.
“It gives me great pleasure to be here for the formal commissioning of the new Terminal at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. This event represents yet another significant milestone for International air travellers in and out of the Federal Capital Territory, he stated, he said.”
He recalled that the Minister of State for Aviation, Sirika had given him his words to have the new terminal commissioned before the end of December 2018 which he has fulfilled.
“You will recall that on the 25th October, 2018, I commissioned Port Harcourt International Airport Terminal. During the event, the Honourable Minister of State (Aviation) stated that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Terminal, Abuja would be completed and ready for commissioning before the end of the year. Today, that promise has been kept. I wish to commend the Honourable Minister and his team for a job well done.”
“This event today, reflects Government’s deliberate policy to sustain the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure. We are gradually closing the infrastructural deficit bedevilling our country.”
“Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Terminal is the first airport terminal to be connected to rail transport system in the Country and indeed in the region. This has provided passengers and other airport users with a choice in the mode of transport to and from the city centre. I recall taking a ride from the City Metro station to the Airport on the day the rail line was commissioned.”
He thanked the Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, the Chines government, China and the China Exim Bank and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC, their financial support and the various roles they played leading to the successful completion of the project.
Hadi Sirika on his part, pleaded with Mr. President to intervene in the outstanding payment of the counterpart fund of $69.3m out of the $100m Nigeria was to pay for the project
According to him, “We are committed to rounding up the project soon, the contractor has gone ahead to implement it as approved, but recently slowed down the pace of work due to non-payment of $69.3m counterpart funding by government. May I respectfully at this point, request Mr President’s kind intervention in this regard, please.”
He explained,” This is the second in the series of Airport terminals to be commissioned from the projects funded by the China-Exim bank loan of $500m with a counterpart funding of $100m from the debt management office.”
The Minister further stated, ” From political and economic perspectives, this airport is very strategic to Nigeria not only because it is the gateway to the nations capital but also because it the second busiest airport in the country and the fastest growing in passenger traffic in West and Central Africa, with an average growth rate of 8%, where the world average growth is 5.8%.”
On the number of passengers that patronized the airport, he stated,” The Airport processed 5,709,012 passengers in 2017. This volume equals to about 13 times the total number of passengers recorded by Ghana as a country.”
“The terminal building has annual passenger capacity of 15m covering a space of approximately 56,000m2. It also has the following facilities as well as capabilities; 72 check-in counters: 5 baggage collection carousels: 28 immigration desks at arrival and 16 at departure: 8 security screening points and 8 passenger boarding bridges ”
Others benefits of the terminal, he added, has a walkway to link the FCT metro rail: additional apron for remote parking of aircraft and a linkway to domestic wing and many other facilities that are properly designed and laid out in accordance with modern requirements for airport operations.
Sirika further thanked Mr President for approving the second phase of the project.
“Mr President will recall FEC approval of the second tranche for the funding of the phase two of this project in the sum of $461,795,551.02.”
He continued, “The phase takes into cognisance, additional facilities that will enhance airport efficiency. These includes but not limited to construction of additional apron: Multi-level car park: Fire station: Additional boarding bridges: Connection between the old and the new terminals, Facility and boarding bridge to accommodate Airbus A380, and the phase two also includes completion of Kano and Lagos terminals.”