Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson has commissioned the newly constructed 60 billion naira International Airport located at Wilberforce Island.
The commissioning of the airport is coming one year after the newly built terminal received its flight operation.
According to atqnews.com, West Africa’s biggest carrier, Air Peace made its first commercial flight operation into the airport in February 2019 making the carrier the first airline to fly into the airport.
The airline flew a 50-seater Embraer 145 jet into the Bayelsa International Airport.
The flight operated by Capt. Crosby Otobo and his crew took off from the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos at about 2.50 p.m. and landed on the 3.5-kilometre runway of the Bayelsa International Airport at about 3.35 p. m.
The flight was welcomed by a crowd of overjoyed indigenes and residents of Bayelsa, including the state Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson and top government officials.
The governor in his remark expressed deep gratitude to God to have given him the courage to initiate the gigantic and life transforming project.
In his words: “Early last year, we witnessed the landing of two flights on this same airport and a few days ago, the air force equally landed, marking the commencement of their operations at the airport. This commissioning is historic and will amongst other benefits, outlive us all and continue to serve the people of Bayelsa State’.
“‘Today, we are changing the narrative that there’s not just an airstrip in Bayelsa, the heart of Ijaw land but an International Airport. This project will continue to take our people to the world and bring the world to our people. We as a people have been neglected for too long and we are far behind others even our closest neighbours. So when we talk about building schools, hospitals and airports, some can’t understand that our people have been left behind and urgently need to catch up.’
“It took a year and six months to sandfill this place because our terrain is treacherous. Everything that is seen in the airport, was put together by the Bayelsa State Government. There is no single gain of Federal Government sand in this airport.
“The Bayelsa State Government built this airport from start to finish. The initial agreement was for the Federal Government to construct it but at the pace they were going, it would have stalled, so it was agreed that the Federal Government construct and equip the terminal building while the state government, the runway. But there was a change in government in 2015 and the agreement was not observed so we took it upon ourselves to embark on the project which we are commissioning today” he said.
However, flight operations at the new terminal may take a longer time to commence as the airport is yet to resolves pending International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) security requirements to function.
According to nigerianflightdeck.com, lack of perimeter fence around the airport has been the reason why it is yet to operate flights like normal aerodromes.
Director of Operation and Training and currently Acting Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Abdullahi Sidi made this known today in his office explaining to reporters that the issue is safety related and has nothing to do with politics.
Captain Sidi said a perimeter fencing around the airport is a non-negotiable security feature for the airport’s functionality stating that until they comply, the airport will remain so.
He said,” After I did my own investigation, Perimeter fencing is number one requirement for airports safety, when I asked the Bayesians, they said they’ve not finished the perimeter fencing, they have done 60-80% but the other side is a creek, water and so on but that is not acceptable.
“If you have water or creek and so on, even if you have crocodiles somebody can ride a boat and get into the airport and then enters your aeroplane and becomes a stowaway passenger in your airport. Do you understand? So that perimeter fencing is what is remaining for Bayelsa Airport, there is no politics about it, it is a requirement anything security we really don’t like playing with it, and it’s a security issue; if we have to close an airport because of security, we have to until they comply.