The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, now has the capacity to process over 20 million passengers with the inauguration of the new international terminal.
Sirika stated this during the inauguration of the new terminal by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the new terminal would process a minimum of 15 million passengers annually, adding that the existing terminal processed 5.8 million in 2017.
According to him, the new terminal has 72 check-in counters, five baggage collection carousels, 28 immigration desks at arrival and 16 at departure, eight security screening points and eight passenger boarding bridges.
“It also has walkway to link the FCT metro rail with additional apron for remote parking of aircraft linkway to domestic wing and many other facilities,” Sirika said.
The minister said that the facilities were properly designed and laid out in accordance with modern requirements for airport operations.
Sirika said that the new terminal was the second in the series of airport terminals to be inaugurated from the projects funded by the China-Exim bank loan of 500 million dollars.
He said Nigeria contributed a counterpart funding of 100 million dollars from the Debt Management Office.
The minister said the airport was strategic to Nigeria as the gateway to the nation’s capital and being the second busiest airport in the country.
He further said that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was the fastest growing in passenger traffic in West and Central Africa with an average growth rate of eight per cent.
According to him, the airport processed 5.8 million passengers in 2017 and this volume equals about 13 times the total number of passengers recorded by Ghana as a country.
He said that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) also approved the second tranche of 461.7 million dollars for the funding of the phase two of the project.
The minister explained that the phase took into cognisance, additional facilities that would enhance airport’s efficiency.
These facilities, according to him, include the construction of an additional apron, a multi-level car park, a fire station, additional boarding bridges and connection between the old and the new terminals.
“It also include facilities and a boarding bridge to accommodate Airbus A380 and the completion of Kano and Lagos terminals.
“We are committed to rounding up the project soon.
“The contractor has gone ahead to implement it as approved, but recently slowed down the pace of work due to non-payment of 69.3 million dollars counterpart funding by government.’’
On his part, the Minister, Federal Capital Territory, Malam Mohammed Bello, said the inauguration of the new terminal was a reflection of the Federal Government’s to completing all important infrastructure projects in the country.
Bello said the new terminal would complement the Abuja light rail and also link IP with Abuja Transportation Master Plan aimed at ensuring seamless connectivity in the city through air, rail and land.
He said the ongoing rehabilitation of the airport road by the FCT was also to complement the benefit of the airport to the travelling public and to boost tourism.
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, said the most effective way to develop an economy was to provide transportation infrastructure, adding that Nigeria must continue to improve the sector.
Pinhjian said the completion of the project had added impetus to China and Nigeria cooperation, saying the Chinese Government was committed to partnering with Nigeria to build infrastructure in the country.
“Please allow me, on the commissioning of the biggest terminal building in West Africa today, to warmly congratulate President Buhari’s government and the good people of Nigeria for making steady progress, peace and prosperity of this great nation.
“My congratulations also go to CCECC and the Chinese Exim Bank for proving that China is a reliable partner of Nigeria,” he said.