Okpella Community Urges Edo Govt To Support Aerodrome Project Instead Of Siting New Airport
The Okpella Community in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State has urged the state government to support the planned aerodrome project by the BUA and Dangote group in the community instead of embarking on a proposed new airport project in the area.
The community contended that should the government go ahead with the new airport, it would amount relocating the project from Etsako East to another local government, Etsako West, both in the same Edo North Senatorial district of the state.
Okpella community spokesman, Chief Richard David, speaking at a press conference on Sunday, stated that there was already a plan by BUA and Dangote to build an aerodrome in the area, and called on the state government to support the aerodrome project instead of getting approval for another airport in Etsako West.
David stated BUA and Dangote were planning to build the aerodrome in Okpella because of their huge investment in the area which had propelled development in the community
The community also expressed surprise that a letter from the Federal Ministry of Aviation dated December 16, 2021 with reference number FMA/ADD/402/5.42/C.9/12, conveying approval for an airport project, wrongly mentioned Okpella as being part of Etsako West Local Government Area.
According to him, “it was a thing of joy to the people when the BUA group hinted that it had started the process of setting up an aerodrome in Okpella for which appropriate modalities of location of suitable site, soil tests and payment of compensation to crop owners had been completed.
“We had expected the government to back this process instead of initiating a fresh move for another airport and erroneously mentioning Okpella as the site.
“We had also expected that the government will commit resources to set up auxiliary infrastructure like access road to and fro the aerodrome, supply of water, improved power supply and others.
“To our surprise, a letter from the federal ministry of Aviation dated 16/12/2021 with reference number FMA/ADD/402/5.42/C.9/12 conveying approval for an airport project, wrongly mentioned Okpella as being part of Etsako West Local Government Area.
“We had expected something to be done to correct this but nothing was done. This action of the FMA, the silence of the Etsako East Council and the body language of the state government have angered our youths and generality of the community.
“We are sure that the same investors trying to build the airstrip will be used to source for funds for this proposed airport by the state government. But we demand that the investors be allowed to continue with the ongoing project in Okpella.
“We have been appealing to and pacifying our youths, who have been visibly restive and suspicious of government action on this project.
“But if the project is stopped and taken to another place, we cannot guarantee the peaceful coexistence between the investors and the community unless Okpella ceases to be their host community.”
He lamented that despite the immense contribution of Okpella to the economic sustenance of Edo State, the community remained the most marginalised in infrastructural consideration.