The Bayelsa Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has described the new Bayelsa Airport as a necessity aimed at attracting investors and tourists.
He said that, as a state that sits at the centre of the Gulf of Guinea, the airport will also be strategic for the coordination of the defence of the region, while attracting foreign investors and tourists to the state.
Ewhrudjakpo spoke during an inspection visit to the project site in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, on Wednesday.
He said that technically, the project would be ready by August 2018.
The Commissioner, however, said that the commissioning date would be subject to the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is expected to inaugurate the project.
“We have not fixed a particular date for the commissioning, because that is subject to Mr. President and the State Governor to agree on a convenient date.
“The terminal building has been completed, except for few changes to meet international standards.
“The control tower is ready, as well as the fire bay. The 3.5km runway, according to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is second to none in the country.
“This also is almost ready. The marking on the runway has started, meaning we are ready to receive flights into the airport. The car park is also ready.
“However, we don’t have other ancillaries, including the clinic, police station and the rustication centre yet, but we are making provisions to use Portakabins to serve that purpose and we are working on them.
“The Bayelsa government has spearheaded the whole construction, with not a single support from the Federal Government to date.
“In any case, Bayelsa sits at the epic centre of the Gulf of Guinea, so the airport here is not going to serve only the state, but also the Gulf of Guinea,” he said.
According to him, the state also has the largest aquaculture farm in the country and the produce cannot be exported by carrying them on the road to airports in Port Harcourt, Warri or Owerri.
Ewhrudjakpo said the state was growing a green economy and planning a lot of green houses as well as a starch factory, products of which are meant for exports.
He said that the efforts would also create huge job potentials and opportunities, especially for the youths.
“What we are building here is cargo airport and it is unique, and that is the niche we are creating for ourselves.
“Our brand is the niche that we are carving for ourselves.
“We are not just constructing for constructing sake, but we have identified a niche in the South-South and South- East that we are trying to key in, our airport is a necessity, not leisure.
“People don’t like coming to Bayelsa because of the difficulty of getting in and out, but now with the airport, it is easier to do so,” he said.