By Chinelo Obogo
Anambra State government has said the newly constructed International Airport in Umueri is fully owned by the state, adding that no loan was procured for the project.
Chief Press Secretary to Governor Willie Obiano, Mr. James Eze, said the earlier negotiations by a Chinese firm for the development of the airport didn’t scale through, noting that the state government had to provide 100 per cent funding for the project without sourcing for a loan. The project was earlier supposed to be a partnership between the state government, Orient Petroleum Resources and Elite International Investments, which would have provided all the funds under a build, operate and transfer (BOT) agreement with a 75 per cent equity stake. Orient was to provide the jet fuel with a 20 per cent equity stake and the state government would have a five per cent equity stake. But Mr. Eze said Governor Obiano decided that the state would fund the project and own 100 per cent equity without the need to borrow money when the negotiations did not scale through. The Commissioner for Works, Mr. Marcel Ifejiofor, told Aviation reporters that the airport was about 90 per cent completed. He said the runway, apron and the taxi way are 100 per cent completed while the terminal is 90 percent completed.
The good thing about what we are doing here is that all the equipment has been paid for. The lights, the aero bridges, the security, the Instrument Landing Systems and the VOR have all been paid for. By the next two months, everything should have been completed and we would commission the airport,” Ifejiofor said.
Governor Obiano said the project took 15 months to get to the level of completion and expressed confidence that when operations commence, it will further boost economic activities in the state.
“Construction work began in January 2020 and here we are – 15 months after, witnessing the first flight into the airport.
“The most interesting thing about this airport, for me, is that the Anambra State Government did not borrow a kobo to build it. Seven years ago, we announced that our vision was to make the state the first choice investment destination and hub of industrialisation and commercial activities. We also declared that our mission was to create a socially stable, business-friendly environment that will attract both indigenes and foreigners to wealth creating opportunities in the state.
“It is difficult to create a new economic corridor without a functional international airport that will serve as a direct bridge between us and the world. With this facility, we have made the journey easier for any investor who wants to prospect for business,” Obiano said.