Aviation professionals Condemn rational by Edo Gov’t for Second Airport In Edo


The plan by the Edo State government to construct an additional airport in the state is attracting negative reac­tions from aviation professionals who said the project was unnecessary, espe­cially when the existing airport in the state is performing below the expected standard.

This is as statistics obtained by  Daily Independent, a daily Newspaper indicates that only 907,038 passengers passed through Benin airport in two years, a figure which ranked the aerodrome as among the lowest in passenger and aircraft movement in the country.

Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the Edo State governor, had last weekend said his government was commit­ted to the development of a new airport in Auchi Edo North Sen­atorial District.

Obaseki said the Federal Government had given the state tentative approval for the Auchi airport, noting that the state gov­ernment was working with avia­tion experts to finalise the survey of the airport project.

The statistics showed that in 2021, a through the airport, while the airport welcomed 474,021 in 2022. total of 433,017 passengers passed

In 2021, Nigeria recorded 15 million inbound and outbound passenger traffic, while the follow­ing year, the country recorded 16. 6 million.

Those spoken to by Daily Inde­pendent described the plan of the state government and other gov­ernments coming up with more airports as misplaced priority and bad economics.

Already, there are about 26 air­ports owned by federal and state governments, but only three of the airports— Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt— are commercial­ly viable.

Dr. Gabriel Olowo, the Pres­ident of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART), said the proliferation of more airports by state governments was unneces­sary.

Olowo argued that most of the current airports in the coun­try were not viable, wondering why a state government would embark on such a capital project when other projects were begging for attention.

Olowo, however, described the step as good politics, but bad economics.

He emphasised that airports are not only expensive to build because of the many facility linkages, but also expensive to maintain.

He said: “What is the status of once glorious Benin airport? Why not revisit the old ruins?

“Airports maintenance is not cheap and must be done routinely. All we need is to make an effort at turning the existing ones into hubs. There must be deliberate effort to develop hubs and not by building non-functional air­port silos all over the states over­stretching the already stressed treasury.”

He also wondered if the state governments had short term and long-term development plans for their states, stressing that each state should necessarily have a 5-10-year development plan for their states, which must be strict­ly honoured by subsequent lead­erships.

According to him, facilities that would make the existing airports a hub are still lacking in most of the country’s airports and mentioned the absence of concourse light train network to connect domestic and interna­tional terminals and vice versa in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano airports.

He further stated that facilities like self-check-in service kiosks are also lacking in most of the country’s airports.

Also, Mr. Bankole Bernard, the Group Managing Director, Finch­glow Travels, told Daily Indepen­dent that the rush for construc­tion of more airports, especially agro-cargo airports by the state governments was a misplaced of priority.

According to him, the inter­state roads that lead to most air­ports are not roadworthy, while important basic amenities are yet to be provided to the citizens.

Bernard insisted that most of the airports embarked upon by the governments are not sustain­able and feared that they may be­come a liability to the government in the future.

He said: “To me, this is an­other misplacement of priority. Agro-cargo airport is a capital project. It is easier to make mon­ey and name when you embark on a capital project. None of them wants to come in and continue on any legacy project not completed by their predecessors because the people will ask you ‘what did you do?’

“However, there is nothing actually wrong if they get their priority right. You cannot be in a state where all the interstate roads are bad and agro is the priority. You cannot be in a state where all the schools are mushrooms and teachers’ salaries are not being paid. Then, agro is what is im­portant to you.

“Can we get our priority right? The government needs to get their priorities right. The concept is a beautiful one, but it is about set­ting priority right.”

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