By George Odok
Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has given assurance that the construction work on the Obudu International Passenger and Cargo Airport would be ready within the stipulated time.
Ayade, who gave the assurance while inspecting the project on Sunday at Obudu, however, did not state the exact time the airport would be ready for inauguration and operation.
The governor expressed satisfaction with the speed of work at the project site in Obudu, saying that the number of contractors engaged in the project would ensure completion in stipulated time.
“I am quite excited at the progress of work so far, we have five subcontractors working here at the Obudu International passenger/cargo airport and we hope to be done with all the earthworks in the next four months.
“The contract was only awarded earlier this year and they moved to site about two months ago and they have achieved about 35 per cent in terms of job completion.
“We are passionate about this project, we are very aggressive about this project, you can see the number of equipment and different subcontractors on site,” he said.
He said that the airport project and the state-owned airline, Cally Air, had been positioned to change the economic narrative of the state by increasing its tourism potentials.
“The Cally Air is completely set up to drive traffic into the state. If you take Emirates out of Dubai, you will have no Dubai, therefore we must understand the fact that logistics is key in today’s world.
“No matter how much you want to depend on a digital world, some physical movement remains imperative,” he added.
Ayade noted that the airport is a vital life wire for the Obudu Cattle Ranch.
He explained that the facility has the capacity to meet Nigeria’s tourism needs, hence the need to create higher footfalls and densification for the ranch.
“To achieve this, access is critical. You cannot have access to Obudu Cattle Ranch even if you were to come in from Lagos, for example.
“You will have to land in Calabar and then you have to deal with six hours of travel time by road to get to the Ranch, which is quite discouraging.
“Tourism cannot be tolerated; tourism is a pleasure. When it becomes tolerance it becomes torture.
“So, we needed to deal with the access because even if I have to put gold in the Ranch nobody will come unless the access to the Ranch is very convenient.
“Beyond increasing footfalls to the Ranch, the main objective of the airport is to create an industrialization process that will give every industry in the state an export potential.
“You have to invest in Naira and earn in dollar for this country to grow,” Ayade said.