Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah has declared that the perishable cargo and aerotropolis initiative hold the key to the true development of the Nigerian Aviation sector. Oduah was speaking in Calabar weekend during an inspection tour of the newly-remodeled Chief Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar.
Aviation, the Minister contended, has the brightest potential, through the aerotropolis and perishable cargo programmes, to bring about a bottom-up growth and development of the Nigerian society. She said the perishable cargo terminal at the Calabar airport will provide a platform for farmers in the state and the neighbouring communities to live a good life beyond mere survival or existence.
”Cross River state is known for her agricultural produce ranging from pineapples, bananas, plantain, cocoa, yam, cassava, etc. Today, much of what the farmers produce here is either grossly under-priced or rots away as a result of lack of local capacity to absorb the huge harvest. But with the perishable cargo taking off here in a matter of months, farmers will begin to secure real value for their hard work as their farm produce will find their way to the biggest cities and supermarkets not only in Nigeria but also in Europe and America”, Oduah declared, adding:
”The value chain that will result from this is also very immense. Just imagine the industries that will spring up to service this terminal like the packaging companies, transportation hubs, as well as the grocery stores that will feed off this facility. Thousands of jobs will be created and the entire landscape of this wonderful city will be greatly enhanced; the possibilities are indeed endless”, the Minister stated, and expressed satisfaction with the progress of work at the airport.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw has hailed the on-going reconstruction and remodeling of the nation’s airports, and expressed happiness that the Calabar airport is one of many in the country that has been totally transformed. Henshaw was speaking with Reporters who caught up with him at the airport during the inspection tour by the Minister.
The NDDC Chairman commended President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for giving the Minister all necessary support to carry out the reforms in the sector, adding that the people of the state and other Nigerians who pass through the new edifice will eternally remain indebted to his administration. He particularly commended the perishable cargo initiative, stressing that the day farmers in the state had been waiting for for decades to have full value for their crops has finally arrived.
”This singular initiative is bound to change the lives of our people in many more ways than anyone can imagine”, Henshaw stated, and alluded to the laudable pineapple produce initiative started by former state governor, Donald Duke which could not fully take off the ground due to lack of local and international markets for their produce. Today, I can assure you that pineapple farming will be fully resuscitated with the siting of the perishable cargo facility in this airport”, the former lawmaker concluded.