Why A Cargo Airport Makes More Sense For Ogun People - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Why A Cargo Airport Makes More Sense For Ogun People



By Obasan Oluwafunso

The decision of the present administration in Ogun State, led by Prince Dapo Abiodun to lead the state on the path of economic independence and prosperity with gradual withdrawal from being over reliant on the Federal allocation is highly commendable.

All these could be seen in the decisive action of Governor Abiodun such as  opening up the Epe-Ijebu-Ode axis of the state with ongoing construction of a ,- 10 - lane dualization project of Ijebu Ode-Epe road, the reconstruction of Sagamu-Abeokuta expressway to broaden access to and fro the Gateway City Gate, the massive investment in agriculture as well as the ongoing construction of Cargo Airport, Iperu in Ikenne local government, the first in the country.

Over the last few weeks when the state government hosted the Senate Committee on Aviation, the purpose of their visit which was mainly to ascertain, delibrate, and decide which project makes more economic sense between the 2007 already proposed and approved Cargo Airport and the recent plan by the immediate past administration to have a passenger airport in the state.

It is important to state here that the overall benefits of having a cargo airport over a passenger airport cannot be overemphasized. The people of the state expect that a cargo airport will improve the economy around the local farmers, raise more enterpreneurs who will venture into the business of cargo, importation and allied businesses. 

The emergence of a cargo airport would alao develop the local economy around the community, there will be more jobs created for the locals, more prosperity for the farming populace in and around the axis as the area has readily been prepared for the project with the ingress and access roads.

The ripple effect will definitely touch other areas of the state as farmers will have the opportunity to earn foreign exchange, just from farming and exporting their produce after certifification through the testing platform of AFROEXIM.

It worths mentioning here that AFROEXIM is currently building the first Africa International Standard Testing Centre at the interchange, that centre is closer to the new Gateway City Gate, Nestle Nigeria PLC and the Sagamu-Abeokuta expressway that is expected to be completed in two months time.

The testing centre when fully operational will complement the cargo airport. Farmers who never for once thought they could export their farm produce in exchange for foreign exchange, will have the opportunity to do so. The centre will also ensure that farm produce to be exported at the cargo airport are certified to meet International Standards, otherwise they risk being rejected and returned to the country.

Among the good things about the airport location is its accessibility. The egress and ingress roads linking it with the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Sagamu-Benin expressway are factors that place the Gateway Cargo Airport at vantage 
position to play significsnt socioeconomic roles to the immediate local environment, Ogun State and Nigeria. And given this proximity to Lagos-Ibadan and Sagamu-Benin expressways respectively, which are adjudged as the two busiest roads in the country, movement of people and goods to and fro the cargo airport is also expected to be seamless with the road network.

Leaving sentiments aside, since the inception of the present administration in the state on the 29th of May, 2019, Dapo Abiodun has shown his desire to lead the state on the path of prosperity. The completion of the AIT/RAYPOWER IKOLA road linking the state with Lagos State,  the Ijebu-Ode-Epe road and Sagamu-Abeokuta expressway amongst other roads are some of the pointers to this journey on the path of prosperity.

It is pertinent to note that after the State had lost the rare opportunity to have the Dangote Refinery sited in Ogun, a project that could have further improved the Internally Generated Revenue and created more job opportunities for the unemployed youths, the present administration began to prepare the State to leverage on pull back factor to pull back from Lagos State, lots of investment opportunities and this requires a well planned environment that provides smooth transportation. This is where the Ijebu-Ode-Epe road and Abeokuta-Sagamu expressway fit in. This intervention says a lot about the readiness of the Dapo Abiodun led government to make Ogun State the investors' destination of choice.

 And while defending the choice of the Cargo Airport, the governor said the decision wasn't based on sentiments, but on principles of good governance and economic development. He said the Cargo Airport apart from being in a good location would also not require the state government investing in any access road, as the cargo airport is less than a kilometer to the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Sagamu-Benin expressway and the Sagamu-Abeokuta expressway.

" I take full responsibility for this decision that I made objectively, they are informed decision, they are not based on any sentiment, all our decisions are made in principles of good governance.

"This airport location, the access and ingress road is like second to none, Lagos-Ibadan expressway is less than a kilometer away from this airport, Sagamu-Benin expressway is less than a kilometer away, so, we are not investing in any access road, those are probably the two busiest roads in this country," Abiodun opined 

It is good to also note that this  government in Ogun State has gotten expression of interest from the likes of FEDEX and DHL who are expected to to have warehouses stationed inside the airport.

The airport will grow organically as the present administration builds the runway, the apron as well as ensure that the airport has a fire station, a control tower and a small terminal building since it is not going to be a commercial airport.

Abiodun in making further case for the airport said that the decision to pursue the 2007 planned Cargo Airport project as against the 2018 plan of passenger airport as conceptualised by the immediate past Governor Ibikunle Amosun, was borne out of the fact that the former had all the necessary document as against the latter which had little information.

" When we started to look at this airport, we said what work has been done in the past, let's dig them up, we just can't abandon what the previous administrations has done and say we are starting something new, government is continuum, so, naturally, we looked at this one that was started in 2007 and then another that was started in 2018,  2007 one, we got archive documents well put together with the Ministry of Aviation, NCAA, geological studies, environmental impact assessment, they had all the requirements, we brushed up all this report and we ensured that the reports were current.

"So, we now said, let's look at the 2018 airport plan, we couldn't find anything, we dug, we searched, we found very little information, so, what did we do, we said, let's assume their is nothing, we set up a committee, chaired by the National President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a team of quantity surveyors, architects, we told them to go and dig into whatever they can find, call people, let's get as much information, we got very little information, most of the details were shrouded in some form of secrecy, I mean for reasons best known to anyone," he said.

Governor Abiodun has however, given his word that his administration would not allow the proposed airport in Wasimi to waste. He assured it would turn the proposed site for a passenger airport into a transit logistics container terminal to resolve the problems of trailer drivers and complement the ecosystem of factories in the area.

Encouragingly, work has started on the site of the proposed cargo airport with the construction of 2.3 kilometers access road and it is expected that the first phase of the airport project will be completed in May, 2022.

Obasan Oluwafunso, Press Officer, Ogun State Governor's Press Crew, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.

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