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Contractor-financiers of Anambra airport abandon site, December date not feasible

…As investors’ desert site, access road unmotorable

Strong indications are on ground to suggest that considering the apparent disappearance of contractors and core investors on site, there is nothing to show that the multibillion dollar Umueri International Cargo Airport (UICA) in Anambra State will be delivered by year end as stated.

Checks during a recent visit by Business Hilights South East Bureau chief showed that weeds have engulfed the over 1500 acre of land dedicated to the scheme since last year and work on the NGN5 billion (USD25.3 million) for the development of a new four-lane approach road to the planned airport in far away March 2015 appeared to have been abandoned.

However, locals who spoke on grounds of anonymity to our correspondent said some earth moving equipment were last week returned to the road, but no work has resumed, thus sparking off speculations of abandoning both the initial road project and the airport development.

It would be recalled that during the deal sealing ceremony at Awka, the state capital, Governor Willie Obiano had noted that key facilities coming with the airport project include two runways, an aviation fuel facility, aircraft maintenance facility, airport hotel, business park and international convention centre.

According to him, the project is expected to generate 1200 direct and 3600 indirect jobs. The project is estimated to cost more than USD2 billion and will be developed through a partnership between the Anambra State Government, Orient Petroleum Resources and Elite International Investments. Elite International Investments will provide all funds under a build, operate, manage and transfer agreement.

Anambra Airport deal 2
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, on Tuesday April 11, 2017, inked a $2bn Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), marking the effective takeoff of construction activities at Umuleri International Cargo Airport (UICA), the proposed site of the International Airport.
The agreement was between the Government of Anambra State, China Aviation, Orient Petroleum Resources Limited and Elite International Investment Holdings Limited.
Accordingly, Governor Obiano flagged off construction work on the site designated for the airport in Umueri last year.

Anambra Airport City Infrastructure Limited (AACIL) allocated a 75% equity stake to Elite International Investments, 20% to Oreint Petroleum Resources Limited and 5% to the State Government.

It was made clear that the state’s 5% is in form of land provision which the government has long contributed by acquiring that massive 1,500 acres of land since last year.

The host community and several residents of the area expressed worry and surprise on why the scheme is becoming abandoned upon all the promises made by both the state government and the Chinese investors since 2017.

Efforts to find out why activities at the airport appeared to be stagnant at the Awka state secretariat failed as no top government official was willing to speak on the total drop of activities at the site when December delivery date is around the corner.

Several phone calls to the Chief press officer of the Governor, Mr. James Eze were not answered nor calls returned.

Further findings by our correspondent revealed a serious underground legal issue involving the developer of the airport concept. Also, additional details showed that the issue had been looming unnoticed by several followers of the project until recently when the speed of work started to drop and fade away.

An official of the aggrieved party (name with held), who send documentary evidences of the crisis bordering on sudden breach of understanding by the state government on the matter, averred that they will continue to fight for their right as far as the airport project is concerned until an acceptable understanding is reached again.