By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja inaugurated the new Terminal at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, in line with his administration’s promise to inaugurate the project before the end of Dec. 2018.
Speaking at the event, Buhari assured that the Federal Government would remain committed to developing Nigeria to regional air transportation hub, thereby assuming its leadership in the aviation sub-sector in Africa.
He recalled that the promise to inaugurate the project was made on Oct. 25 when he inaugurated Port Harcourt International Airport Terminal in Rivers.
“You will recall that on the 25th October, 2018, I commissioned Port Harcourt International Airport Terminal.
“During the event, the Honourable Minister of State (Aviation) stated that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Terminal, Abuja, would be completed and ready for commissioning before the end of the year.
“Today, that promise has been kept. I wish to commend the Honourable Minister and his team for a job well done.
President Buhari said that with the inauguration of the Terminal, Nigeria was moving towards achieving and meeting global aviation standards in facilitation, passenger processing and service delivery in tandem with international best practices.
“This Administration recognises aviation as a catalyst for economic growth and as such will continue to encourage and support the actualisation of projects that will place Nigerian Airports amongst the best in the world.
“This event today, reflects Government’s deliberate policy to sustain the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure.
“We are gradually closing the infrastructural deficit
bedevilling our country.” he said.
President Buhari expressed delight at 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, therefore, challenged government officials manning these gateways at the airports and sea ports 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.
The president said the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Terminal, Abuja, was 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 centre.
“I recall taking a ride from the City Metro station to the Airport on the day the rail line was commissioned,’’ he said.
The president commended the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Transportation (Aviation), the Government of the Peoples Republic of China and the China Exim Bank for their financial support and the various roles they played leading to the successful completion of the project.
He particularly lauded the contractor, Messrs CCECC, for delivering the project on time.
In his remarks, the Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, said the new NAIA 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 with a counterpart funding of 100 millon dollars from the debt management office.
He said that from political and economic perspectives “this airport is very strategic to Nigeria not only because it is the gateway to the nation’s capital, but also because it the second busiest airport in the country.’’
Sirika said that the airport was also the fastest growing in passenger traffic in West and Central Africa with an average growth rate of eight per cent, while the world’s average growth was 5.8 per cent.
He said that the airport processed 5,709,012 passengers in 2017.
“This volume equals to about 13 times the total number of passengers recorded by Ghana as a country.
“The terminal building you are about to commission Mr President, has annual passenger capacity of 15 million covering a space of approximately 56,000m2.
“It also has the following facilities as well as capabilities – 72 check-in counters, five baggage collection carousels, 28 immigration desks at arrival and 16 at departure, eight security screening points and eight passenger boarding bridges,’’ he said.
Other facilities at the terminal, he said, included walkway to link the FCT metro rail, additional apron for remote parking of aircraft and linkway to domestic wing.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Buhari, who inspected the facilities at the terminal, left the airport for Kano on one-day official visit.(NAN)