President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration is gradually closing the infrastructural deficit in the country.
He made the assertion Thursday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, where he commissioned a new terminal building.
Mr Buhari said the commissioning of the new terminal has shown that Nigeria is moving towards achieving and meeting global aviation standards in facilitation, passenger processing and service delivery in tandem with international best practices.
“This Administration recognises aviation as a catalyst for economic growth and as such will continue to encourage and support the actualization of projects that will place Nigerian Airports amongst the best in the world,” he said.
“This event today, reflects Government’s deliberate policy to sustain the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure. We are gradually closing the infrastructural deficit bedevilling our country.”
The new terminal building was constructed by a Chinese firm, CCECC with funding from the China Export Import Bank.
Mr Buhari said the completion of the project represents yet another significant milestone for international air travellers in and out of the Federal Capital Territory.
The president also said he was happy with the progress being made in both the airports and seaports on the implementation of the Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business of his administration.
He said all government officials manning these gateways “are to sustain the momentum and ensure travellers in and out of the country have the best of experience as a necessary complement to the ultra-modern terminal”.
He said the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Terminal is the first airport terminal to be connected to rail transport system in the Country.
“This has provided passengers and other airport users with a choice in the mode of transport to and from the city centre. I recall taking a ride from the City Metro station to the Airport on the day the rail line was commissioned.
“I wish to assure you therefore, that Government remains committed to developing Nigeria into Regional air transportation hub and thereby assuming its leadership in the aviation sub sector in Africa,” he said.
Mr Buhari also commended the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Transportation (Aviation), the Government of the Peoples Republic of China and the China Exim Bank for their financial support and the various roles they played leading to the successful completion of the project.
He also commended the contractor Messrs CCECC for delivering the project on time.
Speaking earlier, the Minister in charge of Aviation, Hadi Sirika said new terminal was the second in the series of Airport terminals to be commissioned from the projects funded by the China-Exim bank loan of $500m with a counterpart funding of $100m from Nigeria’s debt management office.
He said from both political and economic perspectives, the Abuja airport is very strategic to Nigeria not only because it is the gateway to the nations capital but also because it is the second busiest airport in the country.
Me Sirika also said the Abuja airport is ”the fastest growing in passenger traffic in West and Central Africa, with an average growth rate of 8%, where the world average growth is 5.8%. ”.
He said the airport processed 5,709,012 passengers in 2017.
”This volume equals to about 13 times the total number of passengers recorded by Ghana as a country,” he said.
Giving a description of the new building, Mr Sirika said the terminal has an annual passenger capacity of 15 million covering a space of approximately 56,000m2.
He said it also has 72 check-in counters, five baggage collection carousels, 28 immigration desks at arrival and 16 at departure.
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Other features of the new building are eight security screening points, eight passenger boarding bridges, walkway to link the FCT metro rail, additional apron for remote parking of aircraft and a linkway to the domestic wing.
Mr Sirika said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) gave approval of $461,795,551.0 as the second tranche for the funding of phase two of the project.
He said the second phase takes into cognisance, additional facilities that will enhance airport efficiency such as the construction of additional apron, multi-level car park, fire station, additional
boarding bridges and facility and boarding bridge to accommodate Airbus A380.
The phase two of the project also includes completion of Kano and Lagos terminals, he said.
Mr Sirika said his ministry was committed to completing the project soon.
He said, however, that work recently slowed down due to nonpayment of $69.3m counterpart funding by the government.
”May I respectfully at this point, request Mr President’s kind intervention in this regard, please, ” he said.
Also, the Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, in a short remark said the completion of the terminal is a reflection of the desire of Mr Buhari to ensure that important infrastructure projects in the country are completed.
Also the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria in a goodwill message said the new terminal building is the biggest in West Africa.
He said the contractor, CCECC and China Exim bank ”has proven to be a reliable partner for Nigeria”.
”The world needs China and China needs the world for its prosperity. We respect, love and support Nigeria. We will remain true to our Nigerian brothers,” he said.