Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika said the Lagos state economy, which plays host to about 200 financial institutions, needs to be connected to the rest of the world.
Sirika said this at the Ehingbeti Lagos Economic summit on Tuesday, while presenting a letter of approval for a new airport in the state.
This is coming as the aviation pressure group, the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) said it whole-heartedly welcomed the decision of the Lagos State Government to build an airport in the Lekki axis to cater to the bourgeoning population and businesses around the Lekki industrial layout.
Spokesman for the group, Olumide Ohunayo in a statement said despite prior promises and the potential including the extensive plans for the development of the area over the years, the project never took off while the Lekki corridor continued to expand, creating congestion, logistic and traffic chaos, impacting the economic and business opportunities in the area.
For the benefit of Lagos, we strongly advocate for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and the need for the regulator, the NCAA and the Federal Ministry of Aviation, to give the necessary support and approvals for this project.
His words, ‘We are also calling on the relevant agencies and tiers of government, to as a matter of urgency, commence with the repair of the Cenotaphs erected to honour the fallen air passengers at Lisa, Epe, and Ejigbo respectively.’
“These sites serve as a memorial of the dark history of our industry and to honour our fallen citizens. Therefore, roads leading to these sites should be fixed for accessibility”.
The Minister, who acknowledged the economic potential of the state, said the Federal Government did not hesitate to approve Lagos’ request for a new airport because its rich culture, history, industries, and tourism potential needs to be linked and shared with Africa and beyond.
“This city, which houses about 26.7 percent of national GDP, housing our stock exchange, 200 financial institutions, 25 million people, on 5,377 square kilometres of landmass plus Eko Atlantic, plus all the industries, the rich culture, the tradition, the history, the tourist attraction the Eyo Festival, and so on and so forth, needs to be connected to the world to continue to be the center of the economy of the activity of the country, Nigeria,” Sirika said.
“And the only way you can link this city of Lagos to the world is obviously — not the only way, but the best way to connect — by infrastructure.
“So, when his excellency, the governor, approached us in [the] civil aviation ministry and says he wants to build an airport in Lagos, another airport? I said yes, this is a huge step in the very right direction. And the reason is simple. As I said, in my days in Lagos, the terminal point is Maroko, Sandfield. When you go there, you only go to the mechanic to do panel beating for you — that’s it.
“But today, from here, all the way to outer VGC, all the way to Epe, it’s Lagos. The expansion is astronomical, it’s huge, it’s big. The ideas and the size of the economy are good and big. So you need to continue to link Lagos, not only with Nigeria, [but] Africa and the world.
“So if you look at all these financial institutions, the 200 industrial estates, and the Eko Atlantic, there must be a way that these people will come in and out of Lagos on another alternatively, which is the airport in Lekki. Your Excellency, the Governor, this is a huge step in the right direction, we didn’t waste time giving the approval. And we’re happy to present the certificate today.”