The Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon Henry Seriake Dickson, has debunked the claim by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, that the Bayelsa International Airport was flooded and was built at a cost of over N100 billion.
The Governor said while speaking with journalists during an inspection tour of the new airport, that it was built with less than N70 billion by one of the best engineering and construction firms in the country, Dantata and Sawoe.
He said that the sand filling of the massive airport project was undertaken by another highly reputable firm, West Minister Dredging International, which delivered after sustained work for over a year.
The Governor described the Bayelsa International Airport, which has a 3.5 kilometre runway and equipped with some of the best navigational equipment and other facilities in the aviation sector, as among the best in the country.
He urged Bayelsans and Nigerians to ignore the “lies of a desperate political leadership of the All Progressives Congress,” which he said was out to de-market the airport for obvious political reasons.
He urged the APC National Chairman and other leaders of the party to stop playing politics with the development of Bayelsa and her people.
He said that it was a grievous sin for leaders of the APC who had always played politics with the development of Bayelsa and the Ijaw people to come out to stifle the developmental efforts of the government.
Governor Dickson said that the airport had not been given its operational licence not because of lack of the needed facilities but for reasons that have to do with the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state scheduled for November 16, 2019.
He urged the APC political leadership to refrain from deliberate attempt to frustrate the airport project because of assumed political benefits, as the airport was meant not only to serve the PDP or the APC but the entire Niger Delta and Nigeria.
The Governor also called on the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and other regulatory agencies to adhere strictly to standard practice in the sector by refusing to play unnecessary politics with the critical project and issue the necessary approval for the airport to commence the awaited operations.
He stressed that the last report from the regulatory bodies did not raise any safety concern that should deprive the facility of the requisite operation licence as stated by the technical team dealing with the bodies.
The Governor said that the state government would lead Bayelsans and the Ijaw to commission the airport in December and put it to use in the interest of the people.
He said that the cost of construction of the airport, which is less than N70 billion including acquisition, clearing, sand-filling, construction, the terminal building, the fire bay, the control tower and state-of-the-art facilities and others was not different from other airports built on better terrains than that of Bayelsa.
He said, for instance, that the proposed project cost for the Ido-Osun Airport in Osun State as at October, 2017 was N69 billion.
He said: “We are here on a facility tour of our 3.5 km runway airport, the Bayelsa International Airport, and you can see that contrary to the claim by the National Chairman and leaders of the APC, the Airport is not flooded and will never be flooded.
”I will like the entire state, the general public and the entire country to know the height of propaganda that has been bandied, unfortunately, around this wonderful project designed to serve our people, the Ijaw nation and Nigerians.
”You are all on the runway with me right now. You have also seen the height of the dredging which was done for over one year by West Minster Dredging International according to international best practices.
“I can understand for those who do not know the peculiar terrain of this state; it is in this near impossible terrain that we have delivered on this wonderful project critical to the development of our people.
”What isn’t pardonable is that leaders of the APC, who had an opportunity to do this several years ago but would rather swindle our people, deceive them and play 419 with them, are out to discredit it for political advantage.
”We are not talking about that. We came here to work for our people. I call on the people of Bayelsa and Ijaw nation to know their true enemies and once again reject them at the polls on the 16th of this month.”
The Project Manager of Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company, Engr. Andrea Battistelli, said the 3.5 kilometres standard runway was built to international standard to accommodate big airplanes according to specifications, adding that the airport is not prone to flooding.
Also in his speech, the Managing Director of the Bayelsa International Airport, Mr. Jari Williams, noted that the runway has the capacity to take Boeing 747 aircrafts.
He said from the onset of the project, the NCAA collaborated with the state government, stressing that, it is impossible to commence such a project without any approval from the Authority