The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) on in Enugu declared that it had plans to move freights valued at N60 billion annually to Enugu and other states in the South-east zone of the country through the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The Chairman of NAHCO, Alhaji Suleiman Yahya, spoke as the state Governor, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, formally inaugurated the new customs-bonded cargo warehouse said to be the second largest in the country with capacity to handle 100, 000 metric tonnes of cargo.
“We estimate that about 60 billion naira worth of cargo which is about 20 per cent of the entire cargo in Lagos is earmarked for the five eastern states with a lot of them finding their ways to Enugu, Onitsha, Aba and Umuahia,” Yahya said.
He added that when the past administration decided to upgrade the Enugu Airport to an international one, his company decided to be the first to support operations in the airport, adding that they had already done a lot of test run with Ethiopian Airlines for six months and that a number of international airlines, especially, the Emirates are ready to come in.
He noted that the 60 billion naira invested in the cargo programme in the state would generate a lot of economic multipliers to Enugu since the state would have a lot of visitors, investors, agents and small manufacturers among others.
“Enugu State will have a direct access to international trade hub with China, Dubai, UK and Europe because cargo will be globally consolidated and it will be cheaper for eastern businessmen to directly send their cargo to Enugu rather than to send it to Lagos,” he said, adding that the company being an enterprise with special interests in aviation cargo, aircraft handling, passenger facilitation, crew
Transportation and aviation training would guarantee the safety and security of cargoes in line with international conventions and standards.
He noted that consequent upon the cargo business that the state would benefit from significant employment of both skilled and non-skilled manpower, it would compete with Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja in cargo business and thereafter would compete with Lagos.
The NAHCO chairman who observed that easterners are the second largest employees of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, asked the government and people of Enugu State to use the company to showcase what they do both internationally and nationally, adding that Enugu is strategically located.
He used the opportunity to urge the governor to cause the federal government to complete the airport in the state to enhance the cargo business transactions.
Speaking at the event, Customs Area Comptroller (Enugu/Anambra/Ebonyi Area Command), Kashim Ajiya said the revenue profile of the command area would definitely increase with the establishment of the warehouse.
Ajiya who noted that 98 per cent of the several billions of naira received as revenue by the area command was basically from excise traders and not from import duties despite the presence of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, lamented that they realise a paltry N500,000 monthly from the airport through passenger baggage declarations.
He noted that the sum of N11.8 billion generated in the command between 2014 till date were mainly from excise traders, with the bulk from alcoholic beverages.
He urged the NAHCO to ensure that it does not tolerate non-compliant trade in its warehouse especially as it has negatively affected trade facilitation and revenue collection.
He equally warned that the area command would thoroughly scrutinise all suspicious trade conducts, while saying he hopes that the area command would reap millions of naira in revenue from custom duties with the opening of the warehouse.
On his part, the MD/CEO of the company Mr. Nobert Bielderman, said both federal and state governments need to enhance their tax collection potential in the face of dwindling oil revenues, adding that far more taxes can only be generated if individuals and corporate bodies are prosperous.
Bielderman who was represented by the Chief Operating Officer of the company, Hassan Yahaya, reaffirmed the commitment of NAHCO in partnering with any government or agency that shares in its vision of enhancing the economic development of Nigeria and empowering its citizens.
In his remarks at the event, Governor Ugwuanyi who was represented by his deputy, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, said the new bonded warehouse would come as a big relief to businessmen in the state who have had to endure a lot of hardship when bringing in their goods.
He reaffirmed the state government’s resolve to remain steadfast in its resolve to continue to create a conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive in the state.
“We are ready and willing to offer you all the cooperation and assistance required to sustain the successful and effective operation in Enugu.”
Ugwuanyi noted that since the establishment of the company that it has been a major player in the nation’s aviation sector, handling about 70 per cent of foreign and domestic air lines operating in the country.
He added that the company has now become more influential with an expanded financial and economic base following its privatisation in 2005 and entry into stock exchange in 2006.
He thanked the management team for bringing services to Enugu State, adding that the company’s construction of the first multi-billion naira customs cargo is a stepping stone for more investment as the state will assist it to do more.