Asaba — Delta State House of Assembly has approved a loan facility of N5.021 billion for the upgrading of the Asaba International Airport, which was downgraded by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on account of alleged lapses in the runway and taxiways.
A request dated Tuesday, September 8, 2015 was forwarded to the state legislature by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for guarantee of the facility for ULO Consultants Limited, the contracting firm handling rehabilitation work at the Asaba Airport.
The construction firm was pre-qualified by the Nigerian aviation authority to undertake the airport rehabilitation work, said the letter read at the house's plenary by Hon Monday Igbuya.
Okowa noted in the letter that the downgrading meant that large aircraft like the 'Boeing 737' were barred from the Asaba Airport, though smaller aircraft like the D8 and Jets of maximum take-off weight of 25 metric tons were authorised by the NCAA to operate at the airport. He said that the downgrading prompted the setting up of a "Ministerial Task Force on Safety Gap Analysis Review and Audit of Asaba Airport", which subsequently assessed and identified all safety gaps in the airport to ensure proper rejig rehabilitation and upgrading.
After series of meetings, a remedial work plan was drawn up and ULO Consultants Limited was pre-qualified by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority as the company was involved in the initial construction of the airport, the governor revealed. A loan of N5.021bn would, therefore, be guaranteed for the construction firm following the approval of the governor's request by state lawmakers.
The governor in the letter informed the house that owing to the failure of the runway and taxiways at the Asaba International Airport, the Airport was downgraded by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA. The Uduaghan administration awarded the contract to ULO Consultants at the cost of N5.021 billion with a 50% advance payment, amounting to N2,510.6 billion.
"In order to expedite the completion of the project, the contractor presented a proposal for the state government's assistance in obtaining a (loan) facility for the execution of the project which was approved and ratified by the state executive council", Okowa stated. The loan would be used for rehabilitating the runway and taxiways of the airport into which the sum of N200 million shall be paid monthly for twenty-five months totaling N5 billion.
In another development, the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Monday Igbuya, has denied allegation making the rounds that the 23 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in the House contributed a sum of N5million each with intention to compromise the panel of judges and receive a favorable judgment against opposition petitioners at the election tribunal. The rebuttal was contained in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Speaker Igbuya, Mr Henry Ovie Obireri, and made available to THISDAY in Asaba on Friday.
"The Delta State House of Assembly Speaker is an honest and highly effective speaker. He has built a reputation anchored on integrity over the years", Obireri noted, saying, "The Speaker will not mortgage the country's democracy. While appealing to journalists to guide against being used by those he called "police office and money seeking politicians", he accused some members of the opposition of "putting personal interest above those of the people and the state.