By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA-In a bid to close Nigeria’s significant infrastructural deficit, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday Commissioned the new Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Terminal, which is-the first Airport Terminal to be connected to a rail transport system in Nigeria, and in West Africa.
The new terminal, designed to handle 15 million passengers annually, is the second in the series of airport terminals commissioned from the projects funded by the China-Exim bank loan of $500m with a counterpart funding of $100m from the debt management office.
Speaking during the commissioning in Abuja, the President, stated that with the commissioning of the Terminal, Nigeria is moving towards achieving and meeting global aviation standards in facilitation, passenger processing and service delivery in tandem with international best practices.
President Buhari, who expressed happiness over the progress being made in the airports and sea-ports on the implementation of the Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business, noted however, that it is the government’s duty to ensure that travellers in and out of Nigeria get the best,not just in terms of infrastructure, but also service.
“This event today, reflects Government’s deliberate policy to sustain the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure. We are gradually closing the infrastructural deficit bedeviling our country”, said Buhari. “I am happy to note the progress being made in both the airports and sea ports on the implementation of the Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business”.
He urged Government officials manning these gateways 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.
It is pertinent to note that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport(NAIA) Terminal, is the first airport terminal to be connected to rail transport system in the Country and in the region. This has provided passengers and other airport users with a choice in the mode of transport to and from the city center.
The President, who assured Nigerians of the Government’s commitment to developing Nigeria into regional air transportation hub, to assume its leadership in the aviation sub sector in Africa, commended the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Government of the Peoples Republic of China, CCECC and the China Exim Bank for their financial support and the various roles played, leading to the successful completion of the terminal project.
On his part, the Minister of State Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika revealed that the terminal has annual passenger capacity of 15m covering a space of approximately 56,000m2, as well as capabilities such as; 72 check-in counters, five baggage collection carousels, 28 immigration desks at arrival and 16 at departure, eight security screening points, eight passenger boarding bridges, walkway to link the FCT metro rail, additional apron for remote parking of aircraft and link way to domestic wing.
Sirika, stated that the new terminal was the second in the series of airport terminals to be inaugurated from the projects funded by the China-Exim bank loan of 500 million dollars, adding that Nigeria contributed a counterpart funding of 100 million dollars from the Debt Management Office.
Recall that from the $100m counterpart funding, the government has only paid $30.7 leaving a debt of $69.3, which is expected to boost the speedy completion of the outstanding project which includes the new terminal in Kano and Lagos.
Sirika urged the President to approve the outstanding $69.3 counterpart needed to complete the terminal in Kano and Lagos.
“This is 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 the debt management office.
“Sir, we are committed to rounding up the project soon, the contractor has gone ahead to implement it as approved, but recently slowed down the pace of work due to non-payment of $69.3m counterpart funding by government. May I respectfully at this point, request Mr President’s kind intervention in this regard, please”, he pleaded.
Also speaking, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma, revealed that the new terminal would lead to employment of more personnel needed to handle the volume of aircraft and passenger movement.
“With the volume of passengers coming, we will need to continually increase the number of staff in order to cope with aircraft and passenger movement” he added.