Abdulwaheed Odusile, is the Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Ogun State. In this interview with SHOLA ADEKOLA, he speaks on the ongoing Ogun State Agro Cargo International Airport project under the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun. Excerpts…
How far the project has gone
By the grace of God, before the end of this year, aircraft will take-off and land on this airport. That will be the first of its kind in the country. This airport would be the fastest built airport in Nigeria. This project was abandoned by the previous administration and we are continuing it.
We started the construction of this airport from the scratch and we started in April 2021. This airport would be an international airport in all ramifications.
The 4km runway is almost ready, the construction of the fire station is on, the control tower and the administrative building is there and those are the essential components of an airport. Every other thing as you know is luxury and comfort.
Even, at that you will marvel by the architectural design of the terminal building. We are not just building an airport, we are building an aerotropolis. We are bringing different people and don’t forget, this is a specialised airport as it will be an agro-cargo airport. Though, there is another facility for passenger operations.
Already, some agencies of the government are scrambling to be here and I can tell you for a fact, the Nigeria Air Force is already looking forward to be here, the Nigeria Customs Service and so many other private investors. This will be the only truly agro-cargo airport in Nigeria.
There will be an international testing centre here where all agro-produce that go out of Nigeria will come here and be certified as complying with international standard. So, once that is done, goods from here can be exported to anywhere in the world.
All parcels coming into Nigeria would be flown to our airport here before they are now redistributed to any part of Nigeria.
Reasons for the location of the airport?
You can also see the location of the airport, where we are now is about the centre of Ogun State. The airport on the western side, you will see the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, on the southern side, you have the Sagamu–Benin Expressway. So, whichever way you want to approach the airport, the logistics of that is easy to Lagos, which is the fifth largest economy in Africa and Nigeria’s largest economy. To the hinterland, you have easy access, if you want to go to the east, north and other part of the western it is easy.
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, where governorDapoAbiodun is desirous of industrialising Ogun State.
We claim and rightly so to be the industrial capital of Nigeria. We want to use this airport to complement that.
This airport is also an important component of our 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. With these five pillars, we have been able to touch the lives of our people in different ways. This airport is also an infrastructural development, economic development and it is also providing jobs. So many businesses associated with aviation would be here and we are ready to accept everyone. This is one of the promises made by the governor. We don’t promise we are going to do everything, but we are going to do everything that we promised. That is the mantra of this administration. No matter who started this, but we will complete it.
The Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos is one of the most difficult airports to get in to before the expanded the road. For this airport, you can access it through six locations; Lagos-Sagamu, Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Epe. I don’t think any airport can rival it anywhere within this country and the facility is unique. The design was done by one of the famous consulting firms in the world, Craneburg. They have done more airport designs probably than anyone else. So, that credibility is there. The standards we are meeting are world class. Everything you will be seeing today is something that complies with Nigerian and international standards.
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What makes the airport unique?
Whatever they grow in Nigeria can be exported from this place and whatever they produce in any part of the world can also land here. There are lots of opportunities for the exportation of foodstuffs.
One good thing is Ogun State is very vital. One thing is that this will also boost the agro processing and agro products in the state. Its proximity to Lagos, Ibadan and Akure airports also makes it unique.
Lagos is too crowded as it is. The cargo operators are not having a good time, the passengers also are complaining. So, this will be a relief to everyone. Passengers can land here and be in Lagos within 30 minutes and for those going to the east, they can land here and be anywhere within a few hours. So, the viability to me is the best location and it will be a big relief for Lagos also.
Ogun State has the most industry. Sagamu is about 10 minutes drive and we have lots of industries there, which will make it easy for them rather than going to Lagos. All the things that will complement the airport to make it a good business are being done.
Facilities at the airport?
The control tower is about five-storey building and it is what is obtainable in the international community and overall, overall, the total width of the runway is 60; 45 plus 75. And another 7.5 shoulders.
We have perimeter fencing at the airport from the beginning unlike some of the airports that we have around in Nigeria. In front of the perimeter fencing, you will also have security road on both sides for patrol. We don’t want intruders coming into the airport.
The airport terminal is a kind of a hybrid of what you have in Morocco and a bit of Paris in France. It is a work of art. The same thing is also with the control tower which is something unique.
We have two separate terminal buildings for the airport; cargo and passenger. At anytime, the apron can accommodate four aircraft of Boeing 777 aircraft. It can take two wide body and two Boeing 737 model.
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The only testing site approved in Africa by the AfDB will be located at a site not too far from here – 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.
Total landmass for the airport is about 5,000 hectares of land. However, we are still in the phase one of the project, there is room for expansion in the future.
The runway has about four layers with different classes of MM. The layer is about 65mm of asphalt, the second layer is about 50mm of asphalt and the next is about 100mm of asphalt.
On warehousing facilities, the state is not in the business of doing all those things. We are going to have private investors to invest in the airport project. Already, there are lots of enquiries. Even, the federal government is interested. The state government will provide private investors with the facilities to grow their businesses. That is why it is aerotropolis.
Right now, we are at about 90 per cent completion for the runway and the runway would be completed by the end of July. Airfield lighting is already programmed into the project. This airport is supposed to run for 24 hours. So, all the auxiliary things that will make it functional are already programmed.
Level of involvement of aviation agencies?
The first visit by the Senate Committee on Aviation, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) personnel came with them and the regulatory agency gave us an approval for whatever we are doing here. NCAA has been here and we are engaging them and other key agencies in the aviation industry. NCAA has a team dedicated to this project. We are not working in a vacuum.
I can’t be definite at the moment because we are making changes to some of the things here. 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 every 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.