Why a cargo airport makes much more sense for Ogun people - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

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Sunday, 18 April 2021

Why a cargo airport makes much 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 dependence and prosperity with gradual withdrawal from being too over reliant on the Federal allocation is highly commendable.

All these could be seen in the decisive actions of Gov Dapo Abiodun such as the step to open up the Epe-Ijebu-Ode axis of the state with ongoing construction of 10 lane dualization project of Ijebu Ode-Epe road, the reconstruction of  Sagamu-Abeokuta expressway, amidst 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, see 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 benefit of having a cargo airport over a passenger airport will be more beneficial, not only to the state, but to the people of the state, as the expected cargo airport would not only improve the economy around the local farmers, but would also raise more enterpreneurs who would venture into the business of cargo and importation, as well as create lots of job opportunities.

The emergence of a cargo airport would develop the local economy around the community, their would be more jobs created for the locals, more prosperity for the farming populace in and around the axis, and the area was readily made for the project, with the ingress and access road it posseses.

The economic ripple effect of the supposed Cargo airport around the area will definitely touch other areas of the state as farmers would have the opportunity to start to earn foreign exchange, just from farming and exporting their produce which would have been certified through the testing platform of AFROEXIM.

Just to mention that AFROEXIM is currently building the first Africa International Standard Testing Center at the interchange, that center is closer to the new Gateway City Gate, Nestle Nigeria PLC and the Sagamu-Abeokuta expressway that would be completed in the next two months.

The testing center when fully operational would complement the cargo airport as it would avail farmers who never for once thought they could export their farm produce in exchange for foreign exchange, begin to do so, the center will also ensure that farm produce to be exported at the cargo airport are certified to meet up with International Standards, otherwise they could be rejected and returned to the country.

Several things like the airport location, it's access and ingress road that is second to none, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Sagamu-Benin expressway are factors that would work towards the good of the Gateway Cargo Airport, with the Lagos-Ibadan and the Sagamu-Benin expressway which are probably the two busiest roads in the country, movement of the people and their goods to the cargo airport would be easy with the road network.

Leaving sentiments aside, since the inception of the present administration in the state on the 29th of May, 2019, Prince Dapo Abiodun has shown his desire to lead the state on the path of prosperity by embarking on projects that would make transportation more seamless with the completion of the AIT/RAYPOWER IKOLA road, a road that links the state with Lagos State, as well as the Ijebu-Ode-Epe, Sagamu-Abeokuta expressway, amongst other roads the present administration has completed or about completing.

It is pertinent to note that after the state lost the bid to have the Dangote Refinery in the state, a project that could have further improved the Internally Generated Revenue and created more job opportunities for unemployed youths in the state, the only thing to do was to move on with or without the refinery, 

Moving on without the refinery, requires thinking out of the box and thinking out of the box requires proper planning, I mean planning that requires that the state prepares itself to use the pull back factor to pull back from Lagos State, lots of investment opportunities that would require a well planned environment that provides smooth transportation through the Ijebu-Ode-Epe and Abeokuta-Sagamu expressway, an intervention that says a lot about the readiness of the Prince Dapo Abiodun led government to truly make Ogun State the destination of choice.

Prince Dapo Abiodun while defending the choice of the Cargo Airport said the decision wasn't based on sentiments, but on principles of good governance and economic development. The governor said that 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 the Prince Dapo Abiodun led government has gotten expression of interest from the likes of FEDEX and DHL who would be having warehouses stationed inside the airport.

The airport would grow organically as the present administration in the state would only build the runway, the apron, as well as ensure that the airport has a fire station, a control tower and a small terminal building as the airport is not a commercial one.

Abiodun while further making 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 immediate past Gov Ibikunle Amosun was born 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 who however said that his administration would not allow the proposed airport in Wasimi to go to waste, said that his administration would be turning the proposed site for a passenger airport into a transit logistics container terminal that would help to resolve the problems of trailer drivers and complement the ecosystem of factories in the area.

Work has gradually started on the site of the proposed cargo airport with the commencement of work on the 2.3 kilometers access road, with an expectation that the first phase of the airport would be completed by May, 2022.

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