By Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday commissioned the newly built 15 million-passenger capacity terminal facility at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja
Buhari, in his keynote address, said that his administration recognises aviation as a catalyst for economic growth and as such will continue to encourage and support the actualisation of projects that will place Nigerian airports amongst the best in the world.
The president stated that with the commissioning of the terminal, Nigeria is moving towards achieving and meeting global aviation standards in facilitation, passenger processing and service delivery in tandem with international best practices.
According to him, “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.
“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.”
He revealed that the event reflects government’s deliberate policy to sustain the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure, noting that the country was gradually closing the infrastructural deficit bedevilling it.
“I am happy to note the progress being made in both the airports and sea ports on the implementation of the Executive Order on the ease of doing business. Government officials manning these gateways are to sustain the momentum and ensure travellers in and out of the country have the best of experience as a necessary complement to the ultra-modern terminal,” the president said.
He further stated that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport terminal is the first to be connected to rail transport system in the country and indeed in the region, adding that it has provided passengers and other airport users with a choice in the mode of transport to and from the city centre.
According to the president, “I recall taking a ride from the City Metro station to the airport on the day the rail line was commissioned.
“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.
“Let me once again appreciate the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Transportation (Aviation), the Government of the Peoples Republic of China and the China Exim Bank for their financial support and the various roles they played leading to the successful completion of this project. Let me also commend the contractor, Messrs CCECC, for delivering this project on time.
“It is therefore with great pleasure that I commission the new International Terminal building of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.”
Speaking earlier, the Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika disclosed that it was the second in the series of airport terminals to be commissioned from the projects funded by the China Exim Bank loan of $500 million with a counterpart funding of $100 million from the Debt Management Office (DMO).
Sirika noted that from political and economic perspectives, the airport is very strategic to Nigeria not only because it is the gateway to the nation’s capital but also because it is 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 per cent, where the world average growth is 5.8 per cent.
According to him, “I am most honoured to welcome Mr President to the formal commissioning of the new International Terminal at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
“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 you are about to commission Mr President, has an annual passenger capacity of 15 million covering a space of approximately 56,000m2. It also has the following facilities as well as capabilities: 72 check-in counters, five baggage collection carousels, 28 immigration desks at arrival and 16 at departure, eight security screening points, eight passenger boarding bridges, walkway to link the FCT metro rail, additional apron for remote parking of aircraft, link way to domestic wing.
“And many other facilities that are properly designed and laid out in accordance with modern requirements for airport operations.”
Sirika further said: “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. 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.”
“The phase two also includes completion of Kano and Lagos terminals.”