Minister’s stand on Enugu FTZ may discourage international investors—Npower FZC
The Enugu Power Free Zone Company (Enpower FZC), the managers of Enugu Free Trade Zone located near the Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA), Enugu, has reacted to the recent comments credited to the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika that it may shut down the airport on grounds of safety concerns raised by the closeness of the FTZ and other encumbrances.
Chairman of Enpower FZC, Mr. Emeka Ene, decried that the minister’s comments have already triggered panic among international investors that have already staked interests in the free trade zone.
However, he told Business Hilights South East Bureau chief in Enugu that the company and Enugu State government are already working to address all concerns raised by the minister, including mast removal and market relocation.
But in a defence, Ene made it clear that the Minister’s comments were shocking and need not arise because the EFTZ which is the only such facility in the South East zone of the country is eminently certified compliant to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 14 regulations for Aerodrome Safety and Height restrictions.
Industry observers who are in the know of the early stages of the EFTZ say the Zone was approved by the Federal Government in 2015 and the registration and operating licenses issued by Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) to operate as a free trade zone following a rigorous evaluation process spanning over 7 years.
Ene averred that “The EFTZ, situated on two sites at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport and at the Ninth Mile Area, was established since 2015 by the Federal Government and not the State Government as reported by the media, after rigorous engagement with NEPZA, the Ministry of Investment, and regulatory authorities under the Ministry of Aviation to ensure compliance to international Free Zone best practices and aviation regulations.”
According to him, all necessary safety and quality audits had been conducted on the facility by federal government regulators who had the presence of the airport in view without any form of negative recommendation or report after all.
Continuing, the Npower FZC said “As a result of this engagement, the Free zone provided for all relevant specifications of Aerodrome Approach distances, setbacks, RESA, height restrictions in compliance with NCAA and ICAO Annex 14 international aviation regulations. Although the Enugu Airport is not a Category 2 airport, Npower FZC provided for setback and Aircraft inner approach distances in compliance with a more advanced Category 2 airport.”
Providing additional facts on the facility’s safety compliance considerations taken for location of the free zone, Ene noted that Inner Approach length provided at the Enugu airport surpassed all existing lengths at other airports in the country, including Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt airports.
Besides, other findings proved further that the inner approach lengths at Kaduna Airport are 817 meters and 880 meters; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, has 840 meters and 880 meters; Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, has 1000 meters and 1290 meters; Port Harcourt International Airport has 969 meters and 832 meters; while the Enpower FZC, working with FAAN and NCAA, provided for over 1000 meters on the free zone side of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Just as the Npower FZC continues to battle the Minister, stakeholders of the AIIA, Enugu have called on the Federal Government to extend similar runway reconstruction gesture to the airport as it has done to Abuja Airport and recently approved for Lagos Airport after all.