From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
The $2.2 billion proposed Anambra Airport City project has been dismissed as a white elephant project.
According to one-time Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka, the cost of the proposed project, expected to be financed by a Chinese firm, Sinoking Enterprises Investment Ltd, Orient Petroleum and the Anambra State Government, is unrealistically too high.
In his views, Chidoka who stated this during an interactive session with journalists in Obosi, Idemili North Council Area of the state, said the state did not need to spend that much on a project that was far less than what the Federal Government used to carry out projects that are about four times bigger, at just $500 million.
The proposed Anambra Cargo Airport City to be sited in Umueri, Anambra East Council Area, one of the expected signpost projects of the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano administration, was flagged off on April 11 this year at Ivite, Umuleri and was scheduled to be completed within 36 months.
The Chinese Sinoking Group would, according to the details of the contract, bear larger percentage of the financial burden of 75 per cent, alongside other key investors – Orient Petroleum 20 per cent and the Anambra Government, 5 per cent.
Chidoka, a governorship aspirant of the United Progressives Party (UPP) in the forthcoming November 18 election in the state said, “I totally disagree with the airport proposal. Anambra does not need an airport for $2.2 billion when the Federal Government used $500 million to build four terminals.
“How can the Federal Government borrow $400 million from the Chinese and put its own $100 million to build four terminals with repayment of $12.5 million every quarter. And Anambra government alone invited Chinese to build airport project for $2.2 billion. How much will it be paying at that amount?
“How much does Lagos International Airport cost us? What we will do is to build a small airport and grow it organically. Airport is a runway, not terminal building or cargo shed,” he said.
He said the airport project needed basic infrastructure, which was necessary to enable the facility grow according to the forces of market.
According to him, “the basic infrastructure we have to put in place is the runway and landing gear. I will ask the private sector to come and build cargo sections and when I finish, I will ensure that the airport grows naturally at no cost to the state administration.
“The whole passenger flow in Nigeria’s airport is between five and six million passengers annually. What will be the share of Anambra from that traffic?
“Heathrow Airport grew from terminal one to terminal two and now terminal five. There is no traffic study for the proposed airport; no passengers data too. They said it will be a cargo airport and fuel dump. Where is the fuel and refining capacity for Jet A1 here?
“Let us come down from this high horse. There is no five-star hotel in the whole of South East zone because the economy has not supported it. Why telling us then that you want to build a five-star hotel in Aguleri Airport?” he rhetorically queried.