From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The Delta State Government has concessioned Asaba Airport to a private consortium, First Investment/Menzes Consortium, for an initial period of 30 years.
The concession agreement on behalf of the government by Secretary to the State Government Chiedu Ebie and Director General of Delta Investment Development Agency (DIDA) Lucky Oghene-Omoru, while the Chairman of the consortium, Adebisi Adebutu, and a director, Ayo Auquo, signed for the concessionaire.
Speaking at the ceremony in Asaba, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa described the signing as a breakthrough in efforts l to transform the airport into a regional economic hub.
Okowa recalled that dream to concession the airport started six years ago when the Project Steering committee was inaugurated with the mandate to shop for a consortium of concessionaire operators/investors with the technical and financial capabilities to redevelop, finance, design, operate, maintain and manage the airport for the state government.
Acccording to the governor, some terms of the agreement include an annual fee of N100,000,000.00 during the concession period, payable to the state government by the concessionaire.
He added that the annual fee is with 10% escalation every five (5) years of the concession period.
This is besides an annual royalty fee of 2.5% of the annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
Although the consortium shall be exempted from tax payment for five years, Okowa said “the concessionaire shall pay to the state an upfront fee of N1 billion on or before close of business on the 15th day following the signing of this agreement.”
The governor said ‘there shall not be any publicly or privately-owned new airport, whether greenfield developments or expansions in Delta North Senatorial District of Delta State, during the concession period.
‘The concessionaire shall at all times be under an obligation to maintain an employment ratio of 20% of its staff for the operation of the airport comprising indigenes of Delta State.
‘The concessionaire shall undertake the development of mandatory capital projects, and they shall be completed within a period of three years from the effective date of the transaction.
‘The mandatory capital projects include Airport/Terminal Facility, Cargo Facility, Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Facility, Tank Farm Facility, Industrial Park and Office Facility, and Hotel and Conference Facility.’
Okowa is convinced that the concession was the best option to develop the airport, saying ‘with over N28 billion expected to be pumped into the airport development by the consortium over the concession period, the benefits to the state in terms of employment generation, economic growth, urban renewal, and tourism potentials are enormous.’
Chairman of the consortium Mr Adebisi Adebutu pledged to abide by the terms of the agreement and upgrade the airport to international standards and the best in Africa in a few years time.
In a goodwill message, Director General, Nigeria Metrological Agency (NiMet), Prof Sani Abubakar Mashi, on behalf of all the aviation agencies, pledged their resolve to support the consortium to ensure success.