The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has given additional insights on how the emerging Umuleri International Cargo Airport (UICA) will be funded, delivered and managed.
In his address at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Awka, the State capital, Obiano said “Against all expectations and at a time of great economic recession, we have established our beloved state as a compelling investment destination and attracted investments valued at over 5 billion US Dollars”.
“And with this airport city project, the figure now stands at 7.2 billion US Dollars. We have also successfully placed Anambra on the agricultural map and blazed a trail with the exportation of our farm produce to the UK. In addition, we have positioned Anambra as the safest state in Nigeria and completely re-engineered the social architecture of our beloved state. Finally, we have re-awakened self-belief among our people and provoked their can-do spirit. Ladies and gentlemen, Anambra is finally on the RISE!
Explaining more, the governor recalled that “what we have come to flag off in Umeri today is not your usual airport project. Mbanu! Nke anyi di iche! What we are flagging off today is an Airport City Project with a model that will accommodate an airport with two runways, an aviation fuel dump, an airport hotel, an industrial business park, an international convention centre as well as a facility for aircraft maintenance”.
“The Umueri airport city project is conceived to join some of the most advanced airports in the world with a capacity to land any of the most sophisticated vessels known to man today. It sits on 1500 hectares of land with enough elbowroom for expansion from Ivite Umueri to neighbouring communities such as Nando, Umunya, Otuocha, Aguleri, Nteje, Nsugbe and beyond.
“The project is estimated to cost over 2 billion US Dollars. It is a partnership between the Government of Anambra State, Orient Petroleum Resources Limited and Elite International Investments Limited (Sinoking Enterprises Limited).
He explained further that “Under the contractual agreement, Elite International Investments Limited will provide all the funds needed for the project under the Build-Operate-Manage-and-Transfer arrangement. However under the same SPV arrangement, the Anambra Airport City Infrastructure Limited has allocated 75% equity stake to Elite International Investments Limited, 20% to Oreint Petroleum Resources Limited and 5% to the Government of Anambra State. The host communities are entitled to 3% of the profit from this project in perpetuity as a part of the standard corporate social responsibility”.
Elated Obiano rolled out the economic benefits of the Umueri Airport City Project, saying “It is expected to generate 1,200 direct and 3600 indirect jobs. We expect that Ndi Anambra will grab 70% of these jobs in continuation of our efforts to create wealth and prosperity for our people”.
“It will also provide an opportunity for training and skills transfer to our people. I have no doubts whatsoever that this project will have a tremendous impact on the ease of doing business in Anambra State as it opens a direct access by air to our vast markets. In particular, I hope that on completion, the Umueri Airport City Project will wipe out the difficulties our businessmen and women often encounter in exporting and importing goods and services and help in improving the entire supply chain.
He argued that with this project and our subsequent plan for a light rail project, Anambra State will eventually assume its rightful place as a major commercial and industrial hub in the West African sub-region.
He noted that the Airport City Project follows the trajectory of building industrial hub and strong multiplier effects that will create wealth for the people.
“That is why we have established a strong synergy between Orient Petroleum Resources Plc and the Airport project with a view to operating an Aviation Fuel Segment that will attract both local and foreign airlines to refuel their aircraft in Umueri.
“This will no doubt open a new economic corridor for our beloved state as it is expected to stimulate growth in the oil and gas sector and multiply our revenue sources. It is my candid hope also that when this airport becomes operational, the world will have a direct and easy access to the vast tourism offerings of Ogbunike Cave and Ogbaukwu Caves and Waterfalls as well as the timeless archaeological treasures of Igboukwu!
Ndi Anambra, our beloved state is fast opening its doors to the world. Let us join hands and welcome the benefits that knock on our collective door!