Opinion

Why a cargo airport makes more sense for Ogun people

The decision of the present administration in Ogun State, led by Prince Dapo Abiodun, to lead the state on the path of economic independence and prosperity with gradual withdrawal from being over reliant on the federal allocation is highly commendable.

All these could be seen in the decisive actions of Governor Dapo Abiodun such as the step to open up the Epe-Ijebu-Ode axis of the state with the on-going construction of 10-lane dualisation project of the Ijebu-Ode-Epe road, the reconstruction of Sagamu-Abeokuta Expressway, amidst the Gateway City Gate, the massive investment in agriculture as well as the on-going construction of a Cargo Airport, Iperu, in Ikenne Local Government Area, the first in the country A few weeks ago, the state government hosted the Senate Committee on Aviation.

The purpose of their visit was to ascertain, delibrate, see and decide, which project makes more economic sense between the 2007 proposed and approved Cargo Airport and the recent plan by the immediate past administration in the state to have a passenger airport in the state. It is important to state here that having a cargo airport will be more beneficial, not only to the state, but to its people as well, as a cargo airport would not only improve the economy of the locals, but would also raise more enterpreneurs who would venture into the business of cargo and importation, as well as create lots of job opportunities.

The emergence of a cargo airport would develop the local economy around the community. There would be more jobs created for the locals, prosperity for the farming populace in the axis and the area was readily made for the project, with the ingress and access road it posseses.

The economic ripple effect of the supposed cargo airport around the area will definitely touch other areas of the state as farmers would have the opportunity to start earning foreign exchange, just from farming and exporting their produce, which would have been certified through the testing platform of AFROEXIM. AFROEXIM is currently building the first Africa International Standard Testing Center at the interchange.

The testing center is a stone throw from the new Gateway City Gate, Nestle Nigeria Plc and the Sagamu-Abeokuta Expressway under construction and expected to be completed in two months’ time. The testing center, when operational, would complement the cargo airport as it would avail farmers who never thought of exporting their farm produce in exchange for foreign exchange to do so seamlessly as the centre will ensure that farm produce to be exported at the cargo airport are certified to meet up with international standards.

Several things like the airport’s location, its access and ingress roads that is second to none, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Sagamu- Benin Expressway, are factors that would work in favour of the Gateway Cargo Airport, with those two expressways, which are probably the two busiest roads in the country, movement of the people and their goods to and from the cargo airport would be easy. Sentiments apart, since the inception of the present administration in the state on the 29th of May, 2019, Prince Dapo Abiodun has shown his desire to lead the state on the path of prosperity by embarking on projects that would make transportation more seamless with the completion of the AIT/RAYPOWER-KOLA Road, a road that links the state with Lagos State, as well as the Ijebu-Ode-Epe, Sagamu- Abeokuta expressway, amongst other roads the present administration has either completed or about completing.

It is pertinent to note that after the state lost the bid to have the Dangote Refinery in its domain, a project that could have further improved the Internally Generated Revenue and create more job opportunities for unemployed youths in the state, the next thing was to move on with good governance and execution of projects that will equally provide close to if not more than the quantum of jobs the refinery would have provided.

This, however, requires thinking out of the box and this implies proper planning, planning that requires that the state prepares itself to use the pull back factor to pull back from Lagos State, lots of investment opportunities that would require a well planned environment that provides smooth transportation, the type that the Ijebu-Ode-Epe and Abeokuta-Sagamu expressway, could do; an intervention that says a lot about the readiness of the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led government to truly make Ogun State the destination of choice. Prince Dapo Abiodun, while defending the choice of the Cargo Airport, said the decision wasn’t based on sentiments, but on principles of good governance and economic development.

The governor said that the Cargo Airport, apart from being in a good location, would also not require the state government investing in any access road as the cargo airport location is less than a kilometer to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Sagamu-Benin Expressway and the Sagamu-Abeokuta Expressway.

“I take full responsibility for this decision that I made objectively. They are informed decisions, they are not based on any sentiment; all our decisions are made in principles of good governance. “This airport location, the access and ingress road, is like second to none – Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is less than a kilometer away from this airport, Sagamu-Benin Expressway is less than a kilometer away, so, we are not investing in any access road, those are probably the two busiest roads in this country,” Abiodun observed.

It is good to also note that the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led government has got expression of interest from the likes of FEDEX and DHL who would be having warehouses within the airport. The airport would grow organically as the present administration in the state would only build the runway, the apron, as well as ensure that the airport has a fire station, a control tower and a terminal building. Abiodun, while further making case for the airport, said that the decision to pursue the 2007 planned Cargo Airport project as against the 2018 plan of passenger airport as conceptualised by the immediate past administration of Ibikunle Amosun was born out of the fact that the former had all the necessary documents as against the later, which had little information.

“When we started to look at this airport, we said what work has been done in the past, let’s dig them up, we just can’t abandon what the previous administrations had done and say we are starting something new, government is continuum. So, naturally, we looked at this one that was started in 2007 and then another.

 

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