By Olatunji Saliu ABUJA (Xinhua) --
Pa Thomas Sekibo stood awestruck in front of the brand
new international terminal at the Port Harcourt International
Airport, a China-assisted project to boost Nigeria’s economic
prosperity, ready to take a picture of the glittering building.
The 82-year-old retired aviation worker had earlier walked
around the building with his grandson who guided him to the
commissioning of the international airport terminal by President
Muhammadu Buhari, last Thursday.
“This is not only an architectural masterpiece, but it is also a
beauty to behold! I am glad this was built in my lifetime. It is
a day of joy for me, I will rejoice and be glad in it,” Pa
Sekibo told Xinhua.
Still wonderstruck, the octogenarian beckoned to his grandson
who further led him into the main building where they took more
Due to his age, Pa Sekibo’s voice was weak and his footsteps
were slow. His movement inside and outside the building was
aided by a walking stick, with his grandson showing him the way
The infectious smile on Pa Sekibo’s face reflected a great
feeling of joy as he walked past the hi-tech facilities built
inside the airport terminal. “As a former aviation worker, I can
say this building will pass for the most beautiful airport
terminal in Nigeria right now.
“This is not so different from what we see in other parts of the
world. I’m looking forward to my next trip abroad, using this
facility,” he said.
The international airport terminal project was executed by the
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) which
is involved in many ongoing infrastructural projects, including
rail and road construction in Nigeria.
Construction of the new 600-million-U.S. dollar airport terminal
in Port Harcourt, the country’s oil hub and capital of the
southern state of Rivers, is expected to open more convenient
air routes as well as contribute immensely to the economic and
infrastructure development of Nigeria.
The project was done in partnership with the Chinese government,
involving a loan of 500 million U.S. dollars from the
Export-Import Bank of China and 100 million dollars in
counterpart funding from the Nigerian government.
The facility is one of four new international airport terminals
built in the country’s major airports to modernize operation and
passenger facilitation. It is to enable the Nigerian government
to realize its set objective to elevate the aviation industry to
meet international standards and for the sector to be one of the
first 20 by 2020.
Travelers and users of the major airports in Nigeria have always
complained about congestion, insufficient facilities, and
outdated equipment, describing the airports as a disgrace for a
country desirous of promoting tourism.
The structure of the new two-story terminal building includes
the apron, a cargo terminal building, external works, and other
Speaking at the well-attended commissioning of the new terminal
on Oct. 25, Buhari described the world-class facility as “a
significant landmark” for international travelers in the most
populous country in Africa.
He also said the construction of the international terminal came
at the right time for Nigeria, as the Federal Government
responded to a global trend in which aviation became a catalyst
for economic growth as a result of massive and speedy movement
of persons, goods, and services in a safe and secure manner.
Many other Nigerians have hailed the project as one that will
boost the economy of Nigeria, considering the strategic status
of Port Harcourt city as the country’s oil hub and home to
thousands of expatriates and oil multinationals.
The Port Harcourt International Airport is the third-busiest
airport in Nigeria.
“This new international airport terminal will bring about
prosperity in our economy. It will strengthen foreign trade,
cultural exchanges with foreign countries and the development of
tourism. I think it will also strengthen the links between Port
Harcourt and other states within Nigeria, as well as external
links abroad,” said Funmilola Oloyede, an international
Oloyede said from her own point of view as a businesswoman, the
airport terminal will help in accelerating the process of
economic and social development through the development of civil
Michael Jiang, a managing director of CCECC in Nigeria, told
Xinhua the new airport terminal would help Nigeria achieve the
major objective of connecting people through air routes, land,
sea routes and promoting economic prosperity.
On August 18, 2006, the old international airport terminal in
Port Harcourt was closed for repairs. Nigeria’s aviation
authorities said the emergency shutdown was in order to overhaul
the runway and build a fence around the facility.
In December 2007, the airport was reopened to a limited capacity
but operations were restricted to daytime until the first
quarter of 2008.
On Dec. 3, 2012, the contract for the construction of the new
international airport terminal was signed, but large-scale
construction commenced on March 1, 2014.
Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika said that with the
new facility set for use, Nigeria has achieved a milestone in
the implementation of its aviation roadmap.
The old international airport terminal had the capacity to
handle 1,081,587 passengers annually, but Sirika said this new
airport terminal has the capacity to handle seven million