The Federal Government and the Enugu State Government have concluded plans to site a Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in the state to fully maximize the full benefits of the international status of the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu.
Also, being considered by the government is making the airport a transshipment air cargo port to service the West African sub-region as well as other South east states in the country.
Gov. Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, revealed last week in Enugu that president Goodluck Jonathan would soon grant his official approval for the project.
Speaking while the Executive Council of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) visited him in the state, Gov. Chime stated that the state was working towards harnessing the full potentials inherent in the new status of the Enugu airport.
He promised to partner with NAGAFF on sundry ideas put forward to his government so as to generate employment opportunities and grow the economy of the state.
Meanwhile, MMS Plus Weekly gathered that the president Jonathan had directed the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) to move in and ensure the actualization of the project.
Earlier at the meeting, the Executive Council members of NAGAFF led by their National President, Chief Eugene Nweke, sought the collaboration of the state government on establishing the transshipment hub; Inland Container Depot (ICD); E-commerce transaction in the air cargo industry, among others.
According to him, “we came to intimate you and the government of Enugu State of our desire to partner with your administration in the area of proper management, administration and operation of an International Airport, to maximize the benefits.”
Calling on the State Government to encourage and sponsor some youths in the state to take up freight forwarding profession, Nweke emphasized the need for the state to invest in skill development, reminding them that degree programmes relating to logistics and supply chain management are now run by some national and private universities.
Nweke highlighted the benefits of the proposed FTZ and its allied transshipment hub in Enugu as boosting commercial activities by engendering the establishment of small and medium scale industries; improving the revenue base of the state; creating job opportunities, thereby reducing crime rate.
To further boost the revenue base of the state, NAGAFF urged the state government to introduce airport landing fee or cargo dues at the International Airport.
“From our vantage position, we say authoritatively that the South-East can boast of numerous big players in the logistics chain industry. They are more than willing to diversify their cargo traffic through other airports to Enugu because the Lagos Airport especially and the routes around it, are congested. So efforts should be geared towards making the Akanu Ibiam International Airport attractive to importers and freight forwarders to divert their cargoes to the airport,” Nweke further noted.
Meanwhile, Gov. Chime has consented to hosting the 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of NAGAFF in Enugu.