Mixed reactions greet Delta’s concessioning of Asaba airport

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The concessioning of the Asaba International Airport to Asaba Airport Company Limited for 30 years by the Delta State Government has triggered mixed reactions among Deltans.

While some citizens have described it as a welcome development, some others have condemned the concessioning.

The reactions followed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s post on his Facebook page shortly after the signing ceremony of the concession agreement held at the Government House, Asaba, Tuesday.

The governor said that the First Investment/Menzes Consortium was expected to pump over N28 billion into the development of the airport over the 30-year period which he said would benefit the state in terms of employment generation, economic growth, urban renewal and tourism potential, amongst others.

He also said the concessionaire is exempted from paying specific tax to the state government but shall pay the state government an annual fee of N100 million during the period, with 10 percent escalation every five years of the concession period.

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He added that the concessionaire shall pay the state government an upfront fee of N1 billion only on before close of business on the 15th day following the signing of the agreement.

Reacting, a Facebook user, Henry Mogaha, lamented that 30 years’ concession is too long.

“The value of N100 million today will not be the same value in the next ten years with the way naira is being devalued on daily basis,” Mogaha said.

He described it as “a big fraud on the good people of Delta State”.

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“This sounds good but are these guys gonna make their money to pay us the N100 million annually?” asked another citizen, Azubike Henry.

Isioma Sunday, another citizen, said, “Maintenance culture should be their priority to boost infrastructural development in the state.”

Nnamdi Chidiebere commended the state government’s initiative, adding that the concession agreement with the company would draft in high level managerial skills to suit the international standard required of the airport.

In his comment, Emikpe Chibueze asked that the N1 billion be used to pay retired primary school teachers their pensions and gratuity.

It would be recalled that the journey to concession the airport began five years ago when the state government set up a steering committee to shop for consortium of concessionaires/investors with the technical and financial capabilities to redevelop, finance, design, operate, maintain and manage the facilities.

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The governor at the signing of the concession agreement on Tuesday said after a thorough and rigorous review and analysis of the bids by a separate committee, the First Investment/Menzes Consortium was the preferred bidder, having provided the demonstrable capacity to meet all the requirements of the masterplan while also outlining their financial commitment and injection of new investments.

He thanked the consortium for believing in the project, which he said is the first Brownfield Airport concession in Nigeria and possibly Africa.

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