After four years of spadework, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated the new international terminal of Port Harcourt Airport, in Omagwa, Rivers State.
The terminal was built by the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company Nigeria Limited as part of the $500 million concessional loan from the Export – Import Bank of China.
Buhari landed about 12.30 pm and was driven in a convoy to the location of the new terminal.
Speaking at the ceremony Buhari said the Port Harcourt International Airport terminal will play a significant role in promoting economic prosperity of Rivers State.
He said the new terminal will increase passenger growth as well as facilitate the movement of cargo.
He said the facility will bring the airport to international standard to create economic growth for Rivers State as well as the country.
He said the concession of four international airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt will improve infrastructure in Nigeria.
He said the construction of new terminals will be linked to the Warri Rail Line.
Buhari said government is making deliberate efforts to increase handling capacities and infrastructure of the nation’s transport sector which was not taken care of since the 70s and 80s when they were built.
He said it was part of his promises to upgrade Nigeria’s transport infrastructure in all geo political zones of the country.
The president said:” Today’s commissioning is a significant landmark for international travellers especially those in the South South region.
“Not much was done after these airports were built in the 70s and 80s to increase handling capacity of the airports and so we needed to take decisive steps to ensure that our terminals meet the minimum international global standards.
“In the 2017 budget, I promised to upgrade Nigeria’s transport and complete a number projects that will be beneficiary to the nation economically and these include construction of new terminals, railways and power projects.
“Today’s commissioning is a direct policy to sustain economic growth in all geo political zones of the country,” the president said.
In his remarks, Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika said the project commenced in 2014 and was inherited from the previous administration at 30 per cent completion in 2015.
He said despite the inherent challenges associated with the project, Buhari gave approval for the lapses to be corrected.
He listed the challenges to include: inadequate power supply, litigation, lack of apron space which have been addressed.
Speaking earlier, Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike assured the president that the people of Rivers State and indeed the South South are happy with the project stating that it would foster further investment in the state.
Wike said; “I can tell you this today that the people of Rivers State and the Niger Delta are happy with you Mr. President. This terminal here will help the drive of the state to grow the economy and it will attract investment to the state. What has happened here shows that Rivers State is safe, Rivers State is secured and if it was not CCECC will not have been here to construct this.”