• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Ogun cargo airport: Bridging the agro import-export gap in Nigeria

Ogun cargo airport: Bridging the agro import-export gap in Nigeria

Nine years ago, the federal government through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) designated 13 airports as perishable cargo airports in a bid to transform the aviation sector into a major revenue earner for the country. FAAN promised to develop international standard perishable cargo facilities to enhance their operations.

Nine years after, the only functional cargo airports are Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja airports, while the remaining nine cargo airports lack the needed infrastructures to drive cargo imports and exports across Nigeria.

It is therefore in a bid to create the much-needed storage infrastructure in view of the large volume involved and to facilitate the evacuation of agricultural produce to domestic markets in conformity with international standards that Prince Dapo Abiodun, the current governor of Ogun State has restated his commitment to giving Ogun State a brand new Agro-Cargo Airport before the end of 2022 with a runway, fire station and control tower almost ready.

Ogun State has disclosed plans to conclude the ongoing construction of its international cargo airport and make it ready for flight operations before the end of 2022.

In 2007, Gbenga Daniel, the former Governor of Ogun State had conceived the idea of setting up a cargo airport in the state to attract business and investment and to take advantage of the proximity of the state to Lagos.

Consequently, having got the necessary approvals from the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA), erstwhile Governor Daniel settled for Ilishan-Remo, a settlement close to Sagamu, as his preferred location and did the groundwork. But he could not complete the project before the expiration of his tenure in office.

Referred to as the Gateway Agro Cargo Airport, the project is currently being constructed by Craneburg Construction Company, a leading civil and building construction company offering diversified general contracting and design-build services to private clients and public agencies in Nigeria.

Speaking during a press briefing during a facility tour around the airport, Abdulwaheed Odusile, commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ogun State said Ogun State started the construction of this airport from the scratch in April 2021, adding that the airport would be the fastest built airport in Nigeria.

Odusile said Ogun State is not only building an airport but an aerotropolis with another facility for passenger operations.

He said there is an international testing centre at the airport where agro-produce are certified as complying with international standards before they leave the shores of Nigeria, adding that parcels coming into Nigeria would also be flown to the airport before they are now redistributed to any part of Nigeria.

He assured that the airport is located at a strategic part of the country with proximity to Western parts of Nigeria, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, on the southern side and Sagamu–Benin Expressway.

“Whichever way you want to approach the airport, the access to Lagos, the fifth largest economy in Africa and Nigeria’s largest economy is very easy. To the hinterland, we also have easy access. Access is easy to the East, North and other parts of the West,” Odusile added.

“So, goods coming in and out of our neighbouring states will come here and this will also decongest Lagos and it will spread development across the country, especially for us in Ogun State. Governor Abiodun is desirous of industrialising Ogun State,” he explained.

He hinted that already, some agencies of the government have shown interest to be at the airport including the Nigeria Air Force, the Nigeria Customs Service and many other private investors.

According to Odusile, this airport is an important component of Ogun State’s transportation master plan, which will bring together rail, road and water transportation.

“This airport is not just a standalone airport, it is also being supported by other transportation facilities that we are building in Ogun State. This is part of our five pillars of development in Ogun State called ISEYA, which is an acronym for Infrastructure, Social welfare and wellbeing, Education, Youth Empowerment and Job creation and Agriculture and food security. Through these five pillars, we have been able to touch the lives of our people in different ways,” he explained.

He stressed that the airport is an infrastructural development, economic development and it is also providing jobs.

Also speaking at the briefing, Ade Akinsanya, commissioner for works and infrastructure, Ogun State assured that the structure and components of the airport complies with Nigerian and international standards.

Control tower

Akinsanya said the control tower is about a five-storey building and it is what is obtainable in the international community.

Perimeter fencing

Akinsanya said there is perimeter fencing from the beginning of the airport unlike some of the airport with security road on both sides for patrol to prevent intruders from coming into the airport.

Read also: Ogun cargo airport to begin operations before end of 2022

The terminal

The Gateway Agro Cargo Airport terminal has been described as a hybrid of airport structures in Morocco and Paris.

There are two two separate terminal buildings for the airport; cargo and passenger. At any time, the apron can accommodate four Boeing 777 aircraft. It can also take two wide-body and two Boeing 737 aircraft model.

Testing site for agricultural produce

The commissioner for works and infrastructure, Ogun State said the only testing site approved in Africa by the African Development Bank Group will be located at a site not too far from Sagamu.

“That is one of the challenges people exporting goods out of Nigeria face because most of those goods don’t meet the international standard. So, before anything goes out, it will be tested before you can export it and it is just nearby,” he said.

Total landmass for the airport

The total landmass of the airport is about 5,000 hectares of land. With the project still phase one, there is room for expansion in the future.

Runway

The runway has about four layers. The layer is about 65mm of asphalt, the second layer is about 50mm of asphalt and the next is about 100mm of asphalt.

Akinsanya hinted that the runway is about 90 percent complete and will commence operations by the end of July.

Speaking on the level of engagement with aviation agencies on approval and authorisation, he said “during the first visit by the Senate Committee on Aviation, the personnel of the NCAA came with them and the regulatory agency gave us an approval for whatever we are doing here.

“We are engaging the NCAA and other key agencies in the aviation industry. The NCAA has a team dedicated to this project. We are not working in a vacuum.”

Warehousing facilities

Ogun State said it is partnering private investors to invest in the airport project and in providing warehouses. Akinsanya noted that there are already lots of enquiries and even the federal government is interested.

He assured that the state government will provide private investors with the facilities to grow their businesses; that is why it is an aerotropolis.

Airfield lighting

The airfield lighting is programmed into the project, with provision to run for 24 hours. As a result, the state government has assured that all the auxiliary things that will make the lights functional are already programmed.

Exportation of agric produce

The commissioner for works and infrastructure, Ogun State has restated that whatever is grown in Nigeria can be exported from Ogun State and whatever is produced in any part of the world can also land at the airport.

He assured that there are lots of opportunities for exportation of foodstuffs.

Cost implication

The commissioner said he may not be definite on the amount of money spent at the airport because some changes are being made.

“I don’t want to give you a figure now and tomorrow it changes. When we started this project, a litre of diesel was about N300, but today, it has risen to over N800 and equipment and supplies rely on that. That is why I can’t give you a specific number at the moment.

“Luckily for us, the contractor, Craneburg, has good experience as they constructed the Anambra Airport. They are our partner and we are sitting down with them to look at a lot of things,” he added.

Control tower/Power supply

The control tower is currently under construction with room for future expansion.

The commissioner said the airport has private power supply and is also connected to the national grid. The airport also has two backups; the generator and the UPS in case of power failure

Nicholas Mfarrej, senior project manager, Craneburg Construction Company also assured the project would be completed before the end of this year; including the runway fire station, control tower, taxiway, apron and the cargo terminal buildings

Mfarrej said the capacity for the terminal building is about 3,000 passengers at a time. “We still have some redundancy capacity within the terminal. If four aircraft land at a time, the airport can take all,” he assured.