Wednesday, February 24, 2021 12:02 am
By Ifeanyi Olannye
The Delta state government has concessioned Asaba International Airport to a private consortium known as ”Asaba Airport Company Limited”, for 30 years.
Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta announced this, on Tuesday, at the signing of the concession agreement between the state government and the First Investment Development Company (FIDC)-MENZIES Aviation (MA) Consortium.
He noted that the journey, which began in 2015, and sought to partner the private sector to build the airport to international standards had been fully realised with the signing of the agreement.
Okowa said that the consortium were experts in airport management in many countries, adding that the people of Delta would not regret the move, but reap the benefits that would accrue thereafter.
He explained that the consortium, which would pay an initial one billion Naira to the government, would also be expected to generate annual revenues of N100 million for the state government, as well as engage 20 per cent of workforce as local content.
Similarly, he said that the new management would invest N28 billion to build, upgrade the airport to international standards over the period of the concession.
The governor enumerated the “Terms of the concession” as including the handing over of the assets and all infrastructure constructed by the Concessionaire, together with all related investments in, and upgrades to the assets, to the State at the end of the concession period.
He added: “The concessionaire shall (also) purchase and maintain in full force and effect any and all of the insurances required for the operation of the airport.
“The concessionaire shall pay to the state a royalty fee of 2.5 per cent of the annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
“The concessionaire shall pay to the state an annual fee of N100 million each year during the concession period, with 10 per cent escalation every five years of the concession period.
Okowa further said: “My good people of Delta state, with over N28b expected to be pumped into the airport development by the Consortium over the concession period, the benefits to the State in terms of employment generation, economic growth, urban renewal, and tourism potentials are enormous”.
According to Okowa, the concession marked another breakthrough in the state’s goal of transforming Asaba International Airport into a regional economic hub, in line with the vision establishing it.
“The journey to today’s ceremony began in November 2015 when I set up a Project Steering Committee headed by my Senior Policy Adviser, with the mandate to shop for a consortium of Concessionaire Operators /Investors with the technical and financial capabilities to redevelop, finance, design, operate, maintain and manage the airport.
“As we may be aware, this airport was conceived and built by the previous administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, not only as a passenger airport.
”but in that will tap the vast economic potentials accruable from the proximity to the eastern commercial cities of Onitsha and Nnewi and be a hub for export of agricultural and manufactured goods.
“Unfortunately, the vision suffered a major setback when the airport was downgraded to a Category 3 airport by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) just a few months before my administration came into being.
“This administration had to fully rehabilitate, reconstruct the runway, taxiway and other ancillary works, completed the perimeter fence, and evacuated the hill beside the airport for the provision of obstacle free zone for the runway as demanded by the regulatory authority.
“Subsequently, the airport was upgraded to Category 6, which enables aircraft as large as the Boeing 737 to land.
“In addition, this administration completed the installation of the Instrument Landing System and the Airfield Ground Lighting System.
“As a result, the airport can now handle night operations; in the last two months, the airport has operated several night flights as approved by the NCAA and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA)”.
The governor thanked the aviation agencies for their support, while urging them to continue to support the new managers for effective results.
In a remark, the Consortium Chairman, Mr Adebisi Adebutu, thanked the government for giving his firm the opportunity to run the airport, while expressing his delight that FIDC emerged the preferred bidder.
He pledged the consortium’s resolve to abide by the agreement upgrade the airport to international standards and the best in Africa in a few years time.
Also, in a Goodwill message, Director General, Nigeria Metrological Agency (NiMet) , Prof. Sani Abubakar Mashi, on behalf of all the aviation agencies, pledged their resolve to support the consortium to ensure success.
Earlier, in an address of welcome, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Chiedu Ebie, said that the decision by the governor to engage the private sector to mange the airport started five years ago.
Ebie noted that the signing of the agreement to concession the airport was epoch making, given the ravaging effects of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The highpoint of the ceremony was the signing of the concession agreement; with the SSG and DG Delta Investment Development Agency, Olorogun Lucky Oghene-Omoru, signing for the state government, while Adebutu and Mr Ayo Asuquo, a Director signed for the consortium.