Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development Matters, Ahmad Muktar and entourage during inspection of Gusau multi-billion naira Cargo Airport project
The Zamfara State Government says paucity of funds and insecurity were behind the delay in the completion of the Gusau multi-billion naira Cargo Airport project.
The Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development Matters, Ahmad Muktar, told reporters on Friday, in Gusau, that the project may not be completed as earlier planned.
Muktar explained that Avic International, handlers of the project, had abandoned the site after some work on the proposed runway and the airport terminal building, due to lack of funds.
He added that government is looking at the possibility of reviewing the contract sum of the project from the original N10 billion to N20 billion or more.
“Construction of an airport, particularly a Cargo airport, is not only time consuming, but is capital intensive,” Muktar noted.
He added that he had visited some conventional airports in some states, “which indicated the need for a careful cost review of the project, considering the increasing costs of building materials at the moment.
The Commissioner said that Governor Bello Matawalle’s initial goal was to have the Cargo Airport operational before the end the year.
“But, due to lack of funds and the security challenges, as well as the rainy season, the project was temporary suspended. This is coupled with certification requirements from the regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA),” Muktar said, adding that lack of funds also delayed the certification process to meet the protocols demanded by the NCAA.
“Every design of the Airport ought be forwarded to the NCAA for approval and certification, before execution," he added.
Failure to adhere to the NCAA protocols, any structure put in place will have to be removed.
“Already, the state government has approved the payment of over N100 million to the NCAA for the approval of the new design submitted to it,” he said.
Muktar explained that the state was facing low internally generated revenue, “government is, therefore, looking at various options to raise funds for the project.”
He said that the state government was looking at the option of attracting investors into the state, specifically into the project.
“I can assure you, governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle has prioritized the provision of the Cargo Airport as part of his legacy project,” he said.
The Commissioner said Zamfara was an agrarian state, therefore, the airport would be used to move large produce to both local and international markets.
Meanwhile, the Zamfara NUJ Correspondents’ Chapel had visited the site of the project to ascertain the level of work executed, following a foreign media report that the project had advanced and would be completed before December, 2021.
It will be recalled that former Gov. Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi initiated the project in 2008, for an initial contract sum of N10 billion, but the successor administration of Gov. AbdulAziz Yari did not continue with the project in his eight years in office.
Matawalle, however, inherited the project in 2019 and announced his intention to complete and put it to use.