The ongoing construction and remodeling of Victor Attah International Airport (VAIA) in Akwa Ibom State by Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, has forced huge reactions from people both within the state and beyond. Governor Emmanuel had noted that upon completion, the airport terminal will not only create more employment for the citizens of the state, it will also improve the internally generated revenue, add value to the state and help turn the state into a choice destination for Aviation Development and investment.
The Governor’s decision to invest in this sector is sequel to his determination to turn the economic fortune of the state around. The aviation sector the world over is embedded with so much socio-economic benefits, yet no significant investment has been witnessed in this sector in any part of the country. This no doubt explain why Udom Emmanuel’s administration has aggressively pursue the development of the sector to the benefit of both the state and the country in view of turning the state into Nigeria’s aviation hub.
When completed, the Victor Attah International Airport will become one of the few airports in Africa with latest high-tech equipment and facilities. It will further provide for maximum comfort and safety for airlines companies and air users. This development will effectively and efficiently carter for the growing freight traffic for both Domestic and International flight operations with anticipated dominance of the National, Regional and Continental airspace.
Handled by a Turkish Construction firm, VKS Nigeria Construction Limited and currently at the roofing stage, the aesthetically designed building is gradually taking the expected shape with strict compliance to International Aviation standards, monitored by International bodies; the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The 3-storey building sits on a total area of about 23,000m, spanning 183m in length, 117m in width and a height of 14.5m. It is billed to house the International and domestic wings with the ground floor serving as the Check-in Concourse, the first floor will be for arrival while the second floor will be the departure area. It will have four escalators, seven lifts and staircases for ease of movement within the facility. In addition, it will have six boarding bridges with each having a lift and staircase. It is expected to commence operation with one Code-F and four Codes-C stands on the Apron, 5 Air Bridges and a Bus Gate to serve remote stands.
The terminal will serve dual purpose for domestic and international passengers, allow direct flight connection amongst states and major destinations around the world. It has the capacity to handle future demands of passengers with a flexible and adaptable framework that can respond to the increase in Air Traffic Movement (ATM) per hour within the next 50 years forecasted to reach a maximum of 1,166,045 movements by 2030. Additionally, It will provide conducive atmosphere that would ease the stress of purchasing tickets, check-in of luggages, security checks, comfortably waiting area before departure or arrival and provide auxiliary facilities for travel related issues.
The Terminal also comes with features such as; in- and- out gates, arrival lounge, departure lounge, security clearance point, baggage check-in area, baggage carousels, well built internal road network, parking lots, signs, fire station, motel, customs and Immigration desk-points. Other features are baggage reclaim hall, outbound baggage hall, shops and snack bars, conveniences, supporting office spaces and beverage lounges among other pertinent features.
Conducting newsmen around the construction site, the Honourable Commissioner for Special Duties, Okpolupm Etteh, said when completed, the terminal will position the state as a destination, boost economic fortune of the state and boost tourism. He noted that Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration upon completion of its tenure, would have left behind an economy that will sustain the state, the country and the African continent, advancing that the Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul – MRO section of the airport is expected to service airlines across the continent.
Etteh, commended VKS Nigeria Construction Limited for being professional in handling the project and adopting world best practice in service delivery. He solicited that the same way the company delivered the 21 Smart Storey building to the government of the state in record time, the company should do so with the terminal building. He assured the company of government support for the smooth completion of the gigantic project.
A representative of the company, Mr. Ndiana Isong, who is the Group Human Resources Manager, said, VKS will leave no stone unturned in delivering the project to the delight of the government and good people of the state. He assured that VKS has reputation of quality work delivery over the years through the quality of personnel in its employ and equipment. Mr. Isong relied on the huge experience of the construction firm to get the job done and to an international standard.
Isong thanked the host communities for their cooperation so far. He observed that without the cooperation of the host communities, the successes recorded so far wouldn’t have been possible. He urged the community leaders to continue to cooperate with the government and the construction firm, as upon completion of the project, they the people will be the greatest beneficiaries, through employment and other benefits.
Reacting on behalf of Okobo community, Mr. Charles Asuquo Ekpenyong, commended the state government for its vision in creating an economy that will change the fortune of the people of the state, and thank the governor for his sincerity and commitment in delivering the job before the expiration of his administration. He promised to continue in the cordial relationship between the host communities and the construction firm, VKS Nigeria. He said the construction firm are doing a great job both in human management and job delivery, hence the overwhelming cooperation.
On his part, the community representative of Uruan, Mr. Raphael Effiong Ndem, said the project upon completion will boost the economy of the country, the state and the local people who are predominantly farmers. He observed that with the full operation of the terminal, their farm produce will be patronized by the influx of guests expected to do business in the state through the airport. He said aside the expected patronage from visitors, their children will be employed in the facility and that will automatically translate into economic fortune for his people.
Mr. Ndem thank Governor Udom Emmanuel for funding the project and thank VKS Nigeria for creating employment for his skilled people who are part of the ongoing construction work.
For Mr. Archibong Prinus Archibong, the days of abandoned projects are over in the state. He said, when the governor flagged off the project, he doubted the possibility of the governor completing the project before the expiration of his tenor. He noted that with what is on ground, he is very delighted and convinced that the governor will not only commission the project on the stipulated time, he will hand over a fully functional airport terminal to the next government.
Archibong commended VKS NIGERIA for the work done so far, and urged the construction firm to speed up with the furnishings so that before the end of 2022 the project will be delivered to the state government and its people for effective use.
Culled from THISDAY