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Enugu, FAAN inaugurate committee on upgrade of Akanu Ibiam Int’l Airport

The Enugu State Government and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria on Thursday constituted a committee to fine-tune the terms of cooperation and work out other modalities towards the actualisation of the long-awaited infrastructural upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

The setting up the committee was aimed towards the completion and operationalisation of the international terminal as well as the construction of a cargo terminal and warehouses at the Airport, which had since been abandoned.

This was even as the Managing Director of FAAN, Mrs Olubunmi Kuku, lauded what she described as “the wisdom of the Enugu State Government to partner with FAAN in providing critical infrastructure that will enhance the ability of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in providing seamless operations in cargo, domestic, and international passenger facilitation.”

A statement by the media office of the governor, said that Mrs Kuku while speaking at a meeting between the state government and FAAN at the Government House, stressed that the infrastructural upgrade, when completed, would “catalyse the business potential of the South East region, increase wealth creation within the zone, reduce poverty, and enhance the GDP of the states within this geopolitical zone.”

She explained that separate studies by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Airport Transport Association had demonstrated that ”airports are engines of economic growth and that “one percent of a state budgetary allocation spent on an airport has the ability to triple the state’s GDP.“

“In this regard, we welcome the nomination of experts from the state and from FAAN to join a committee that will commence further actions and with timelines. That will aid in signing the necessary MOU for the immediate implementation of the project as envisioned by the governor,” she stated.

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Speaking of Enugu State, Dr Peter Mbah, reiterated his government’s determination to make the state the preferred destination for investment, business, tourism, and living as well as grow the state’s economy from the current $4.4 billion GDP to $30 billion GDP in the next four to eight years. He, however, said that the government was aware that such exponential growth would not happen without providing the necessary environment, including world class airport, aviation, and logistics services, that would make the state attractive to private investors.

“For example, in our plan for tourism, we have projected to have over three million visitors come into Enugu State every year from next year. So, when we think in numbers, in terms of logistics, we will be expecting over 100 flights to come into Enugu on a daily basis. Therefore, the current infrastructure cannot handle it.

“Therefore, we are going to work with you to operationalise the international wing of the airport. We are also interested in constructing the cargo terminal and warehouses,” the governor stated.

He explained that the initial issues with the Nigerian Airforce surrounding the proposed site for the cargo terminal had been resolved following the execution of an MoU with the military service and there was nothing encumbering the commencement of the project.

“One of the impediments, which is something we came across when we assumed office and we have been able to deal with that, is our relationship with the Nigerian Airforce. We now have green lights to go ahead with the construction of the cargo terminal following our agreement because we have executed an agreement with the Airforce.

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“We have an understanding where they are to build their barracks and where we are to build the other infrastructure. That is all sorted out now. We are hoping that we get this Committee sitting done and concluded within the next two weeks. And so, by the next time we will meet, it will just be to sign the dotted lines. This is a priority for us as government”, Mbah stated.

Meanwhile, the Committee is to be chaired by the Commissioner for Transportation in Enugu State, Dr. Obi Ozor, and co-chaired by Mr. Hycienth Ngwu, Head of Business Development, FAAN.

Ede Nwa Ede
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