The Federal government and the Enugu State government are to partner to complete and operationalise the international wing of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, as well as build a cargo terminal to boost the state’s and nation’s economy and tourism capacity.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Kabir Yusuf Mohammed, and the Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, made this known after a tour of the ongoing international terminal building and the proposed site for the international cargo terminal at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, on Monday.
Speaking to newsmen after a courtesy visit to the Governor and tour of the facility with the Governor, Mr. Mohammed commended Mbah’s zeal and sense of urgency towards the actualisation and operationalisation of the two terminals, saying there was no better time to discuss partnership and collaboration than now.
“We met with the Governor here today with a view to collaborate with FAAN in order to make the international terminal functional. This is a time to look at things again and again before you will be able to get the right formula for it, and I believe His Excellency has that formula and within the shortest possible time, I can assure you that this terminal will be put to use.
“The first place we went to is supposed to be the cargo terminal. We have a cargo warehouse in that location as well as the cargo terminal.
“Enugu, as the capital of South-Eastern region, is where we know that there is a lot of traders, who trade in different kinds of things across the globe.
“So, having in place a cargo terminal here will go a long way in improving the economy of the South-East Zone and the nation,” the FAAN boss stated.
Also speaking to reporters, Dr. Mbah said the operationalisation of the international terminal and construction of the cargo terminal and warehouse at the airport were critical to Enugu’s drive for a $30 billion economy, describing them as enablers of investments and key economic activities in the state.
“For us, the cargo terminal is critical. You know that we are migrating agriculture to agro-allied industrialisation. That means agriculture will not just be for food, it will also be for export. And the cargo terminal is critical if we are going to engage in the exporrt of agricultural and agro-allied produce from the state. We need to be able to export from here. That is why we are looking at partnering with FAAN to ensure that we start and complete a cargo terminal and indeed operationalise it.
“As you can see, the international wing is almost complete. So, we need to have it operationalised. Until we get it functional, we will not be able to make money from it, and it will not impact anybody. We will not be able to create value for the people of Enugu or South East and indeed the entire country.
“Again, if you look at the huge economic development plan we have expressed to our people, tourism is core there. We are looking at attracting over three million visitors in Enugu yearly. That cannot happen just by road. It is going to occur by flying, getting people from all across the different parts of the world to come to Enugu; and that will mean having an international airport, this terminal, in operation. That is why we are looking at how we can work with FAAN to ensure the completion of this wing of the airport and indeed operationalise it”, Mbah stated.
On the challenge of funding, Mbah assured that FAAN and the state government would explore funding models to actualise the project.
He said: “Now, we believe that projects like these are bankable because they are also revenue-yielding projects. So, there is no reason why we cannot find a financing model that will work for us and ensure that this project is immediately realised. The ultimate thing is to get it operationalised immediately”.
Mbah also said the state government and the FAAN team also had fruitful discussions on timeline to ensure the speedy completion of both projects.
“So, we are going to be working out a strategic framework of action of where we are going to, in all the functional areas, spell out timelines that we need to complete this project. But this time, it will not just be words; we will go beyond that to putting those words into action”, the Governor assured.