Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said the vision behind the construction of the Gateway Agro-cargo International Airport is to expand the industrial base and open up the State as an agro processing hub in the West African sub-African.
Speaking when he hosted investors in the Aviation Industry at the Airport, the Governor stated that the airport when completed, would be of international standard, and on completion, would handle both agro and passengers services.
The airport, the Governor noted, started with collection of approval from relevant agencies in 2006, stating that it is situated at the centre of the State and would leverage on its closeness to Lagos, the economic capital of the country.
The Governor said the construction of the airport is in fulfilment of the vision his administration has for the state and informed that it would host a Special Agro-Processing Zone, where conglomerates in the agricultural sector, would process agricultural products for export.
While promising that the airport would be one of the best in country, Prince Abiodun said many investors have indicated interest to invest in the airport, while the Nigerian Air force and the Nigeria Customs are to set up their base and training school at the airport.
“This airport has been built within one and half years because it fits into our transportation master plan, it allows us to have a multi-model approach that connects the road transport to the sea or ocean transport, to the rail transport and of course to the air transport.
“This airport is an agro cargo airport but it is also an international airport, so we will have activities for both agro and non-agro and then we have passenger traffic as well.
“We have one of the biggest cargo aprons in the country, our apron is like four times the size of the cargo apron in Muritala Muhammad International Airport, about 82,000 square meters. We are also constructing a second apron, so one apron will be dedicated for cargo, the other will be dedicated for passenger, we have runway that is about 4km in length and about 60 meters in width
“By the time we finish our terminal building, you will see that there is flow in our designs, our terminal building also looks exactly like the control tower admin building and the reason for that is very simple because we envisaged that this airport will be expanding quite rapidly, so we wanted to make for a design that allows us to expand the airport in due course.
The Governor said his administration would commence the construction of warehouses “because if this is going to be a cargo airport, there is need for us to have warehouse.”
In his remarks, the Chairman, Access Corporation; Herbert Wigwe, said his company was the first to key into the vision of the Governor’s desire to build a world class airport in the State.
“I think this airport will certainly be one of the very best we have in the country and perhaps on the continent and I think when it is completed, it will serve several other purposes in terms of an export processing zone.
“I happened to be at the bankers committee at a particular point in time where we were thinking of how to resolve some the challenges we are facing in Nigeria as far as export is concerned and apart from the seaport, this airport was designated as one of those airports that will be used to solve the problem of export in Nigeria.
“As a banker, I feel extremely fulfilled to be part of this project, a project by a responsible entity, one in which the leadership is fully aware of the implication to the wider economy, I am talking in terms of employment, development of the facilities and areas around the airport.”
The Chief Executive Officer, ExecutiveJet, Siza Madiba, said his company is interested in developing an aircraft maintenance organisation to support commercial aircraft that are in need of support, saying there is capital flight as most of the Airlines carry out their maintenance outside the country hence spending billion of dollars out of the country.
“The money could be spent in Nigeria where we have a facility, where employment is created, training is created and expertise is done, one of the expertise areas has to do with the supply chain in aircraft parts.”
A senior procurement officer, Executive Jets Aviation, Layefa Amanah, said, “We have found out a lot of persons fly out to do their maintenance outside the country and this being an international and cargo airport, it is also going to help facilitate the movement of parts, it is not going to be something that will be difficult considering it’s going to be a cargo airport whereby containers can land and we can easily get our parts.
“Considering that the Customs are also going to be here, it is going to be an excellent project going forward, we have a team of dedicated staff that will be willing to come over and put everything in place from planning down to administration, procurement and logistics wise,” she said.