Airfield Lights Installation Expected At Owerri Airport This Month, Says AM
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the installation of the Airfield Lights (AFL) on the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri, Imo State will be completed by the end of October, 2023.
This was disclosed today by the Owerri Airport Manager, Mrs. Rejoice Ndudinachi, while welcoming the Aviacargo Roadmap Development Committee, a committee on a
fact finding tour of the airport.
She disclosed that the AFL was the priority project of the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, adding that hopefully, the project will be completed at end of October 2023. She said the airport had the highest passenger traffic in the South East outside Lagos and that today, the airport is almost the highest in air cargo business.
Speaking further, the Airport Manager said the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri is strategically located and that the airport was close both to Ariaria and Aba Markets.
Ndudinachi said people from Edo, Anambra, Cross River and other states use the airport and that she believed the airport could have successful cargo operations, thanking the governor for making it a duty to fix the AFL. She commended the committee for coming to do a tour of the facilities at the airport
Responding, the Chairman of the Committee, Ikechi Uko said that the Committee was constituted by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) to look critically into the air cargo business in the country and proffer solutions towards moving forward. He hinted that the air level of cargo business in Nigeria is at its lowest ebb and that part of the committee’s job was to see things for itself by touring cargo airports across the country and identifying the challenge’s and potentials there in.
To buttress his point, Uko said that 71% of yam in Africa is produced by Nigeria but Ghana exports 95% of all yam exports in Africa even though it produces only 11%. This, he said goes to show that all is not well with Nigeria’s air cargo system.
Citing another example, the Committee Chairman said that Ghana imports eggs from Belgium, while Nigeria’s eggs are wasting away across the country. He said that despite having close to 20 cargo airports in Nigeria, “Our goods are rotten when there are a lot of cargo airports everywhere.”. All these, he said necessitated the inauguration of the Aviacargo Committee.
According to him, “Unofficially, there are close to 20 cargo airports in the country. Almost all the states in the South have airports and almost all the states in the North have airports but we have not been able to use these airports to distribute cargo within the country.”
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) feels that there is the need to take advantage of what we already have. It is not to something we need to go and bring but to distribute what we already have effectively and efficiently,” Uko said.
Speaking further, he said” Without domestic cargo, we cannot do international cargo export. Unfortunately, we are very weak in international cargo.
The committee’s job is to indentify things we needed to be done and set guidelines to show where we are and where we want to be.”
“The Committee Chairman lamented that some years ago, Jos operated 25 flights but that today, the same airport is struggling to do one and the only one is a passenger flight.