The Nasarawa State governor, Umaru Al-Makura, on Friday inaugurated the construction of an international cargo airport worth N17.5 billion in Lafia.
The governor laid the foundation stone for the project at Kwandere village, about 10 kilometres from Lafia metropolis.
He said the conception of the airport was informed by the desire of his administration to create a formidable platform for transportation of both domestic and international passengers.
The governor explained that the project would be executed under Public-Private-Partnership, PPP, arrangement.
He said the principal partner, a Chinese company, Tongyi Group, would provide 75 per cent of the cost of the project, while the government would provide the remaining 25 per cent.
Mr. Al-Makura expressed confidence that the construction firm would complete the project within the 18 months period stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding, MOU.
He said when completed, the airport would unbundle the economic potentials of not only Nasarawa State, but the North-Central geo-political zone of the country.
He maintained that the project would open a new vista of economic activities, create employment for the teeming youths and boost the inflow of revenue into the coffers of the state.
“This airport will also serve as spring board for easy evacuation of the abundant agricultural produce and solid mineral resources in the state,” Mr. Al-Makura added.
The governor pointed out that aside the attraction of investment, the airport would serve as an alternative terminus to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
“When constructed, the new airport will help assuage the congestion and over-stretched facilities at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja,” he said.
He assured the host communities where the airport is sited of adequate compensation for their land in line with the provisions of the land use Act.
The governor urged them to support the execution of the project for the benefit of all.
Mr. Al-Makura said his government would construct a bye-pass to link the airport to Abuja.
He explained that the bye-pass would shorten the journey from Lafia to Abuja to one and half hours and provide alternative for commuters plying the Lafia-Akwanga-Keffi-Abuja route.
Earlier, Zheng You, Chairman of Tongyi Group, assured the governor and people of the state that the company would deploy its expertise and technology to deliver on the project within the stipulated time.