Bayelsa seeks N40bn to complete cargo airport

The Seriake Dickson administration in Bayelsa State is seeking N40bn loan from commercial banks to enable it complete the construction of its cargo airport.

The airport project is located near Amassomma in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.

It was learnt that Dickson had last week forwarded a letter of request to the state House of Assembly seeking approval of the government to stand as a guarantor for the Bayelsa Airlines to secure the loan.

Though the total cost of the airport project could not be ascertained, it was gathered that the facility would attract a total interest of N32bn to be serviced within eight years. This will bring the total loan repayment to N72bn.

It was further learnt that the Governor had in his letter, explained to the lawmakers that the airport project was designed for the largest cargo and commercial aircraft to land.

Dickson was said to have assured the Assembly that the airport would be ready for use by the last quarter of 2015.

He was said to have clarified that the Federal Government’s contribution to the project was the construction of the terminal building while its earlier contract awarded through the Niger Delta Development Commission to sand fill the site would continue at its pace.

“Out of the total estimated cost of the project, the state government has already spent N9.3bn for payment of compensation for land owners, consultancy services, construction of runway and clearing of land, among others,” Dickson explained in the letter.

Sequel to the Governor’s request, the state House of Assembly on Tuesday invited relevant officials of the government to provide details of the N40bn facility.

Those invited were the Commissioner for Finance, Duate Iyabi; Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kemasuode Wodu; the state Accountant General,Tarimo Aseimo; and the Managing Director of Bayelsa Airlines, Mr. Henry Ungbuku.

The four officials, in their submissions during questioning by the Committee of the Whole House, presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Konbowei Benson, assured the lawmakers of the socio-economic benefits of the airport to the state.

They allayed the fear that the loan might be diverted into private pockets.

There are indications, however, that the 24-member Assembly would approve the governor’s request.

The majority of the lawmakers had during the debate spoken in favour of the state government to stand as a guarantor for the state airline.

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