- *Says Asaba airport an economic booster
Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, on Sunday inspected facilities at the Asaba International Airport, saying he was impressed with the Delta State Government for the quality of facilities at the airport.
He expressed delight at the commitment of the government to the upgrade of the airport facilities, saying the airport would act as catalyst for accelerated economic development growth in the catchment area and the country at large.
Specifically, Sirika commended the state government for developing the airport to meet international standards especially in the area of upgrade of the runway and associated facilities after the Nigerian aviation authorities downgraded the aiport in 2015.
He particularly commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for sticking to standards and for ensuring transparency in the concessoning process of the Asaba airport to ensure effective and sustainable operations.
The minister said, “Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is always a very serious minded person, very focused, principled and always committed to doing the right thing. I have been informed how he ensured transparency in the concessioning of the Asaba Airport, that some of his friends bid for the Airport and lost; and in the interest of his people he didn’t interfere. He didn’t care whether his friends lost but what he wanted was quality and the right people to run the airport and I think this is what will help our nation.
“The Asaba airport is strategically located. It is right there at the centre of very many good locations in the country. It is good for business, good for civil aviation, and we are delighted that the Delta State Government has taken aviation as one of the catalysts for growth and development and for identifying and also understanding the importance aviation could add to the economy of the region.
“I am here because we believe that the best way to manage our airports is to concession them to private hands to make them better managed and better operated and to get value for our money.
“The Delta State Government took up the challenge and they attended so many conferences with us, they dialogued with us at the ministry and they decided on their own to concession the Asaba Airport and here we are after three tedious years, and being fully guided by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission to put this to reality.
“The Asaba Airport is on its way to being fully concessioned, they have feeder airlines that will operate as well as a principal airline coming in to Asaba and feeding other stations, they have a hotel, Business park, cargo and they have everything here an international airport needs to operate and all of these are from the private sector and if it works, this is a classical example of partnership with the private sector to develop our infrastructure for the common good of our people”.
“This is a modest example of how things should be, we will carry out more of these inspections, as a ministry we are responsible for civil aviation and air transportation in general and we will not be found wanting in this regard. Coming here excites me, it shows me the courage and determination by the State Government to partner with the private sector to develop this airport.
“From what I have seen here and from what we have on ground and also the planned expansion of the terminal building, the Asaba Airport is indeed an international airport in that regard.”
The aviation minister, who was conducted round by the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, and Senior Policy Adviser to the Governor, Prof. Sylvester Monye, was accompanied by the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Aviation, Mr. Hassan Musa; Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu; and Technical Assistant to the FG commends Delta State Govt. on Asaba Airport facilities.