Achebe Airport partners bonded warehouse operators to improve cargo operations

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The Management of Chinua Achebe Airport, Umueri, Anambra, says it has entered an agreement with a private bonded warehouse operator to commence and boost cargo operation at the facilities.

Mr Martin Nwafor, Managing Director of the airport, announced this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umueri, near Onitsha on Tuesday.

Nwafor said by virtue of the approval given by federal aviation authorities, the major thrust of the airport was largely cargo handling.

He said cargo operation had not fully started as the management was developing processes and  procedures to prepare ground for smooth take-off.

According to him, cargo operations involve the people who own the cargo and the consolidators and they pull the cargo together from different people as well as the airlines which move the cargo.

He said the airport provided huge opportunities for investors wishing to build warehouse facilities, adding that the management was already  processing the documents of those who paid processing fees and awaiting allocation.

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“We are approved as an international airport but there are conditions that must be met to achieve it. We are working to get the necessary certifications by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.

“As an airport, we have to provide the warehouse, work with customs and other agencies that are designated by the Federal Government to be involved in the screening of  cargo.

“We have signed an MOU with a bonded warehouse, a private warehousing company at Nawfia. This  bonded warehouse has all the approving government institutions on ground.

“We are planning to build a cargo ramp and we have places mapped out for it, ” he said.

Nwafor said air cargo operation was not viable in Nigeria because of lack of corresponding exportable produce that could find their way to Europe, America or Caribbeans.  

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He said Nigeria should develop its agriculture base and put in place standardisation processes that would meet international standards in order to boost global acceptability.

According to him, the major problem that militates against cargo operations in Nigeria generally is that foreign cargo airplanes come in here fully loaded but go back empty, nothing to take back.

“When they bring in cargo, there is nothing to take back, they now fly to Ghana where pineapples are brought fresh from the farm, as a matter of fact, it must get to Belgium fresh in at least five hours.

“International standards must be  met from clearing of the bush to harvesting; users in foreign countries are interested in the type of farm where these produce are harvested, and how well the standards are observed,” he said.

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Nwafor said the investment in the  airport had  opened Anambra to the world as most corporate businesses and public sector visitors now accessed the state through air.

He said the major strategic objective of management of the airport was safety and that emphases were on building the capacity of the airport staff.

“You cover a journey that will take you 12 hours by road in 45 mins, negotiate your business and go back, it saves lives, it saves time and boosts image.

“At commencement, we were at 55 per cent, five months after our fire trucks arrived, more facilities are coming in.

“By the renaming, it shows that Mr governor is interested in what is going on here; though it is capital intensive,  it takes time to get to the point we are aiming at.

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