Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the much-awaited Bayelsa State International Airport, located at Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, will be ready on August 27, 2018.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, and the Managing Director, Bayelsa Airline, Capt. Henry Ungbuku, made this known on Friday while conducting a select journalists round the airport project.
They said that the airport project, which was commissioned by the Seriake Dickson administration in 2012, would be personally inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on the take-off date (August 27, 2018) after test flights a week earlier.
Specifically, Iworiso-Markson said the multi-billion naira international airport is one of the legacy projects that would change the economic fortunes of the state and bring about prosperity for the people.
He said the airport would create massive job opportunities for Bayelsans and would be a leading investment destination as well as a hub for business when it becomes fully operational.
Iworiso-Markson stated, “There will be more business opportunities, more investment opportunities and more revenue. It is indeed a dream come through for us as a government. We are so excited about this project because of the massive benefits the state and our people will derive from it.
“The airport is a testament of the commitment and dedication of the government of Seriake Dickson to open up this state and show to the world our huge potential. This is the heart of the Niger Delta, this is the Jerusalem of the Ijaw nation and this airport will give us a new narrative.
“I want our people to know that this is not politics, it is development, and we have often said that we don’t play politics with development. This airport will be used by all political parties irrespective of party affiliation; so nobody should politicize this project.”
He said that the airport is fully funded by the state government after the Federal Government pulled out from an earlier agreement which would have seen it provide counterpart funds for the construction of the terminal building, control tower, hangar and fire bay.
He expressed gratitude to Dickson for his vision and foresight, noting that it took only a serious leader like him to carry out an ambitious project such as that even in a recession.
On his part, Ungbuku said with a 3.5 kilometre runway, which is the longest in the whole of West Africa, the airport is capable of receiving the biggest aircraft.
He said that with some of the best and latest security equipment that had been installed, the Bayelsa International Airport will be one of the safest airports in Nigeria.
Ungbuku assured Nigerians that test flight operations would commence on August 20 ahead of the inauguration by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 27.
Giving insight into the level of completion, the managing director said that the airport’s runway is 90 per cent completed; the fire building 95 per cent completed and the terminal building is 100 per cent completed.
He also said that the car park, the tarmac (where planes are parked) are completed, adding that the taxiway and runway are almost completed.
On the strategic importance of the airport, Ungbuku said, “The airport is strategic. You can imagine that from Port Harcourt to Lagos is 45 minutes but from Yenagoa to Lagos is 35 minutes, so the distance is shorter. So, people can come and do business as fast as possible here.
“Another strategic reason is the equipment we are installing at the airport. We are putting a Category 2 instrument approach system and you have only one or two airports in the country that have the equipment. We are trying to do this so that Bayelsa will be an alternative destination when there is weather or fuelling problems, because here will be a fuelling hub also.
“If you are going to Port Harcourt airport and maybe the weather is not good or that they do not have the actual navigational facilities to take in such a flight at a critical weather, you can actually fly into Yenagoa as an alternative destination.”