NIGERIA: FAAN Partners Imo State Govt On Airport Upgrade

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has pleaded with Governor Hope Uzodinma to assist it in completing the cargo operations terminal and increasing the runway of the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri, from 2,700 to 3,000 metres, and the width from 45 to 60 metres.

Its chief executive, Captain Rabiu Yadudu, made the appeal during a visit to the governor at the weekend in Owerri.He observed that the gateway had maintained its envious market share and traffic in the last five years, adding that it could hit the first or second spot in the country if the necessary infrastructure are in place.

The FAAN boss regretted the challenges posed to the industry by the COVID-19 pandemic, pointing out that the development had necessitated re-strategising in the period to come.

Responding, Uzodinma promised to help the agency actualiase the standardisation of the airport to enhance economic activities in the state and beyond.The governor said he was convinced way back as chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation that the sector should be run professionally.

“I have always believed that FAAN must be encouraged to run the sector professionally. The industry is not what people think in terms of funding, the reason for government intervention,” Uzodimma said, adding that many people think that a good airport is having good terminal building, but it goes beyond stressing that. “The issue of runway, perimeter fencing, aircraft parking lot, taxing way, security and insurance are indices that those who frequently fly take into consideration before buying ticket”.

Uzodimma told Yadudu that he was much willing to get the airport fully off the ground in terms of facilities standardization and upgrade. “We both have job to do,” he said, urging the FAAN boss to oblige him with the status report on the cargo airport that ought to define where the place is now in terms of what has been done; so that he can be properly guided.

Construction of the Imo Airport, near Owerri, began in the early 1980s under late civilian governor, Sam Mbakwe, but operation began in 1994. The state government built the air terminal and handed it over to the federal government to be managed by FAAN.


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