David-Chyddy Eleke looks at the Anambra International Cargo Airport being built by Governor Willie Obiano, and how it can help position the state for economic prosperity
The people of the South-east are very well known for their involvement in economic activities, but Anambra people have also distinguished themselves as chief among others states in the zone in the area of business. With Onitsha, which is popular for its economic activities, also known as the commercial capital of Anambra State, while also playing host to the largest market in the entire West Africa, and then Nnewi, which is the state’s industrial hub, and also known as the Japan of Africa; one cannot but acknowledge the ingenuity of Anambra people in business.
The Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano has however commenced a strong move to further boost the business ingenuity of the people of the state, through the construction of an international cargo airport that will receive and also export processed goods from Nigeria to other parts of the world.
Recently, the Joint National Assembly Committee on Aviation, comprising of members of the Senate and House of Representatives led by Senator Smart Adeyemi were at the site of the cargo airport project on oversight duties, and could not help but marvel at the enormity of the project and the quality of the job being put in place.
Adeyemi who led other senators and members of the House of Representatives from the aviation committee on the tour said, “I have been privileged to travel to a lot of countries, and each time I am in any airport around the world, I take out time to see what they have. I can attest that this is a massive project, and what you have just done is opening Anambra up economically.
“By doing so, you are also helping to open Nigeria up economically too. Aviation is key to development of any place. If you talk about economic development you must talk about aviation.
“I am not in doubt that apart from the length of the runway, the quality of the project here is key, especially being that it is a cargo airport that can take all manner of aircrafts. South -east are very enterprising people, and you have provided a platform for this region to reach its potential. I will tell you that whoever that will succeed you will have a job to do.
“The job will be to make this airport viable and not just for passengers but also for cargo. That person must start thinking of how to realise this. You have set the pace for your successor. I had been opportune to read about your exploits in the exportation of vegetables and other farm produce in Anambra State, and I believe that the inauguration of this airport will further open frontiers for more businesses for the people of the state, both in importation of good, and the export too,” Adeyemi said.
Adeyemi was not the only one who was sure that the project would impact on the businesses of the people of the state. The Chairman House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji was also optimistic of the impact the project would make on the people. He commended the state government for the project and charged them to ensure the completion of the airport as promised.
Days earlier, the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Captian Musa Nuhu who was at the site for inspection had said, “I am amazed, almost speechless at the level of work and the level of compliance with our regulatory requirements and also with international standard and recommended practices.
“We have gone round the airport. We have a runway of 3.7km, with a runway safety area on both ends of the airport of about 1,000 metres.
“There is no airport in Nigeria that has a racer area of 1,000 metres at both ends of the runway, with two taxi ways. We have gone to the tower, the control tower is amazing, if not one of the best control towers in Nigeria today.”
Though it is an election year in Anambra, with the governorship election coming in months, the opposition parties and even aspirants to the governorship seat on the platform of opposition parties have not failed to compliment Obiano on the quality of the project.
For instance, Senator Uche Ekwunife, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant, who is also a member of the Senate Committee on Aviation, who joined other senators to inspect the project expressed happiness at the vision of the governor.
Ekwunife said: “Irrespective of political affiliation, when you see a good work you commend it. I want to commend you, my governor; to say that I am proud of this project is an understatement. I am truly very proud of this project.
“I want to say that for any viable business to thrive in any state, aviation is very critical. And I believe that this is a very very viable project and it’s a legacy project. I commend your government, but let me particularly commend your Commissioner for Works.
Because no matter how good the intentions and the vision of the governor are, if the commissioner for Works is not doing well, it will affect this project. I saw the determination, the hard work, and the zeal when he was taking us round.
“I want to commend him. I commend the entire team that is putting up this project. On behalf the good people of Anambra Senatorial District that I am representing in the Senate, I want to express our good wishes to you and your government.”
Obiano who conducted lawmakers and journalists through the projects exuded a lot of pride about the quality of his project, while assuring that the project would be ready for use by April, insisting that the airport is a one of a kind airport in Africa, with the length and quality of the runway, among others components.
He gleefully showed off the unique facilities of the project, saying; “This airport has the longest runway in Nigeria, except for Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos. It is 3.7 kilometers, and if you add the two racers, that makes 5.2 kilometers. You can land or take off from either sides of the runway, and as you can see it is a dual carriage way.”
“This airport is going to be the very best in Africa, with a satellite lighting system, that cannot be seen anywhere else in Africa. We did this deliberately because we envisage that it is going to be a very busy airport. In five days, we would have finished everything about the runway. The apron is completed, the control tower is a seven floor architectural piece.
“The control tower has a lifespan of 300 years, while the parking lot is built to take 750 vehicles at a stretch. The project is one that any Anambra indigene will be proud of, and in one month’s time, the airport will be functional. It may interest you to know that we did not borrow any money from anywhere in doing this project,” he added.
Already, the business community in Anambra State is expectant of the opening of the cargo airport, with some business representatives who also undertook the tour commending the governor.
Chief Lawrence Ugwu, a businessman told journalists that besides the economic benefits the airport would have on businesses, thousands of people, most of whom would be Anambra indigenes would also gain employment into the project once it begins to function.
He added that, “As a cargo airport, our farmers who are already exporting vegetables to other countries would find a lot of ease of doing business, because before now, you have to process and take to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, and most times there is flight delay.
“But with this airport, they can schedule their flight ahead of time, and also supply to their international consumers early enough, and you can be sure that the quality of the vegetable would still be very rich, and more people from outside can now be placing demands. There will just be spiral effect on businesses in the state,” He said.