President Muhammadu Buhari, will next month visit Bayelsa to inaugurate the state’s International Airport, which has a 3.5-kilometre long runway for large airplanes.
The airport, fully funded by the state government, officials told journalists during an inspection yesterday, would also begin to receive test flights from the 20th of August, before the official opening on August 27th by the president.
“We are ready for the unveiling and of course no one is in any doubt that this will be one of the very best in this part of the world when open. This runway can take a big aircraft like the Boeing 737,” Commissioner for Information and Orientation in the state, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said.
The Commissioner along with journalists, who were taken round the facility by the Director of Bayelsa Airlines, Capt. Henry Ungbuku, noted that with the completion of the project, Bayelsa would not only become a business hub for surrounding states but also for some West African countries.
He added that the multi-billion naira airport would also create job opportunities for the people of the state, noting that most of the work at the facility already over 95 per cent, was done in a recession.
“There will be more business opportunities, more investment opportunities and more revenue. It is indeed a dream come true 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.
“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 both PDP and APC members, so nobody should politicise this project. That is why the President is coming to commission it,” he said.
He insisted that the major oil multinationals companies operating in the area could now bring in their equipment through the airport, stressing that it will be one of the safest in Nigeria when fully operational.
“You can fly from here to London, instead of going to Lagos first, to any European country and even African countries. We owe the Bayelsa people the responsibility to lead the way,” he added.
In his remarks, Ungbuku, said the flight from the airport to Lagos would be 35 minutes as opposed to the Port Harcourt airport which takes 45 minutes, explaining that the airport would have a ‘Category Two’ approach system, unlike the older versions currently being used in the country.
“They have just one or two airports that have that in Nigeria right now. It means that Bayelsa airport has become an alternative when there are weather issues or fuelling problems. It’s a fuelling hub too. If the conditions are not good, you can actually fly into Yenagoa as an alternative destination.
“If you are going to Sao Tome and Principe or Equatorial Guinea, it’s just 15 minutes from here. There’s a direct route from this airport to Onitsha which is one of the biggest markets we have around which makes it a perfect destination for cargo,” he said.