The Bayelsa State governor, Henry Seriake Dickson has given reasons why he is building an airport in Bayelsa.
The governor said building an airport in Bayelsa, which happened to be the heart of Ijawland is one of his passion why he became a governor, according to him; “when I came on board, I wanted an airport in Bayelsa State, the heart of Ijawland, to boost our economy and play an active role in the Gulf of Guinea.
“I went to the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and insured a N50 billion facility to deliver on the airport and tied it to the various contracts that would be awarded. Dickson told Dailytrust in an interview.
Speaking on how far his administration have gone on the airport project, the governor revealed that they have expanded the scope of the airport from a two-kilometre runway to a 3.5-kilometre one because “we intended to make it commercially viable, he said.
“Right now, it is only in Lagos, Kano and Abuja airports that big cargo planes can land. Even cargo planes servicing the oil companies in the Niger Delta bring in their oil equipment and tools, and their merchandise from there.
“They can’t land in Port Harcourt or in Enugu. They can’t land in any other airport in the South-South. So we have to structure our new airport for that type of traffic – actually cargo airport – to cover the South-South and South-East to handle big goods that come in from China and other places.
“We are building the biggest state-owned airport in Nigeria. The contract was awarded to Dantata and Sawoe and is now almost 90 per cent completed. We already have the runway and the terminal building. Now, I am awarding the contract for the navigational instruments; when they are installed, you have the airport.
“This airport will open up the state and enable people to fly in and out of Bayelsa for business and pleasure, and will generally create a hub for businesses. Bayelsa State is a renowned centre of oil and gas,and yet there is no activity there. When you ask the companies why they are not in Bayelsa, some of them say it is because there is no airport; they can’t fly in and out. So we can’t even control elements of the oil trade because there is no airport, and even no seaport there.
“A lot of companies out there are already in touch with my team. They want to use the airport as a hub, coming in with planes to run their services, to connect directly with Lagos, Abuja and other cities, and to also service the Gulf of Guinea.It will also be a free trade zone, so that all the goods coming into the South-South and South-East and most other parts of the country will be there and there will be a market for them. That is why the airport is very important.
“We are also doing a road from there to the airport, so from the East-West, you can easily get to the Bayelsa airport. With the airport, we will capture the markets in Warri, Ahoada, Ughelli and so on. Our strategic plan at opening up the airport for business will accelerate our development. The development of any state or nation is tied to creating a business-friendly environment, and building the infrastructure that can attract and encourage businesses to grow. We have a strategic plan for all these and that’s why this airport is so critical to us.
“There is also a plan for a deep seaport from the airport. Within an hour, you can drive from the airport to the Agger Deep Seaport. We are building the road from Sagbama to Ekeremor, which is about 50 kilometres. We have sand filled about 47 kilometres already. It is very expensive to do; they are pumping sand day and night.
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