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Bayelsa Airport project is a fraud, state APC attacks Seriake Dickson

Only political desperadoes criticise execution of the Airport, Bayelsa govt says

THE Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described the state airport project being undertaken by the Seriake Dickson administration as a “cesspit of fraud”.

Doifie Buokoribo, the Publicity Secretary of the APC in Bayelsa State, made the allegation in a statement, saying that the project “is a fraudulent scheme put up by Governor Seriake Dickson to facilitate the syphoning of state funds”

Buokoribo said the cargo airport project has no economic value to the state and that the total cost has been over bloated.

He said the governor borrowed N40 billion from a bank to begin work on the project, but the same governor, during a visit to Amassoma community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, told the people that the sum of N80 billion has so far been spent on the project.

Buokoribo said the N80 billion loan, when added to the N32 billion interest it will accrue, “the cost comes to N112 billion”.

“It is clearly the most expensive airport project in Nigeria, as none of the 26 owned by the Federal Government or the eight owned by States is near that figure,” the statement read.

“The Bayelsa International Airport project does not make any economic sense. A total interest of N32 billion (to be serviced within eight years) is a crippling repayment burden to the State.”

The Bayelsa APC spokesman further alleged that the conceptualization of the Airport was faulty as it leaves the airport without a standard road network or connecting rail system.

Dickson responds

In a statement forwarded to the ICIR on Friday by the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Information, Daniel Iworiso-Mackson, the state government said: “it would only take a band of unconscionable political desperadoes to criticize the well conceptualized and effectively executed Bayelsa International Airport”.

He urged the public to disregard the APC which, according to him was being manipulated by Timipre Sylva, former Governor of the State.

However, Iworiso-Mackson did not address any of the allegations raised in the APC statement.

The Bayelsa Cargo airport was scheduled to be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in August this year, as announced by the State Government in July, but that did not happen.

At the time, the airport was said to be 95 per cent completed, as the runway and terminal were already in place.

How much does a new airport cost?

The ICIR does not know the total cost of the Bayelsa Airport project. Calls to Iworiso-Mackson were not answered, and when a text message sent to him asking for the information, he simply referred to the press statement already quoted above.

However, in April this year, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, told a joint National Assembly committee that it would cost an upward of N67 billion to construct a second runway for the Abuja International Airport.

It is not clear how long the proposed new runway will be, but the Bayelsa Airport runway is said to 3.5 kilometres long. Assuming the new Abuja airport runway will be the same distance as that of Bayelsa, the cost could be higher given the location.

In April 2017, the Prime Minister of Dominica Republic, Roosevelt Skerrit, said it would cost the country $220 million to construct a new international airport. That is about N67.1 billion, using the official rate of N305 to $1.

According to africanaerospace.aero, several airport projects are springing up across Africa, each estimated to gulp hundreds of millions of dollars.

Rwanda is constructing the Bugesera International Airport at $818 million, the construction to split the Blaise Diagne International Airport in Dakar, Senegal, into two phases, is expected to cost $560 million, Tanzania’s new US$300 million terminal is due to open in June 2019, while the Zambian government is planning to spend US$500 million in airport construction projects in Lusaka.

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