President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday commissioned the new terminal at the Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa, Rivers State, a development that is bound to lift the airport out of the dungeon of bad record. 

At the event, President Buhari said the Federal Government had removed the Value Added Tax (VAT) from domestic air travels for some reasons. 

First, is to reduce air fares to enable speedy movement of more people and spur business activities that will stimulate the economy.

He told the gathering that the decision to remove VAT from domestic air transportation was in line with global best practices of making air transportation affordable, which will subsequently lead to the creation of more jobs by the air transport service value chain.

President Buhari explained that the removal of VAT would also increase revenue for the government with more traffic at the airports.

The President noted that the increase in national population with consequent surge in air passenger traffic necessitated upgrading and construction of new airports across Nigeria.

“I am very pleased to formally commission the new International Terminal of the Port Harcourt airport, Omagwa, today.

"This ceremony represents a significant landmark for international air travellers, particularly from the South-South region and the entire country.

"You will recall that after opening the major airport terminals in the country in the late 70s and early 80s, not much was added to increase the passenger handling capacity of these facilities by successive administrations.

"Following the large increase in national population with consequent surge in air passenger traffic, the capacity of the airport terminals became woefully inadequate to cater for the increase in passenger traffic," he said

According to the President, decisive actions have to be taken by the Federal Government to ensure that terminals meet minimum international standards for the travelling public.

“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.

President Muhammadu Buhari at Port Harcourt Airpor

“As part of the infrastructure renewal program, the construction of four new international terminals at Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano airports was embarked upon by the Federal Government with a view to modernising the aging airport infrastructure to meet global aviation standards and improved service delivery in tandem with best international practices," he said.

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President Buhari recalled that at the presentation of the 2017 Budget to the National Assembly, he promised to upgrade and develop Nigeria’s transport, power and health infrastructure, and complete a number of stalled infrastructure projects, which includes major airports, roads and power projects, and the completion of the Kaduna–Abuja as well as Itakpe to Warri Railway lines.

He believes that Nigeria, having an advantageous central location within the sub-region with a desire to develop into a regional air transportation hub, must upgrade its facilities to take advantage of its assets.

In his remarks, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, said the state was safe for visitors and investments, commending the Federal Government for its intervention in building a new terminal for the people, which would attract more investments.

Wike also said the state government would revamp the road leading to the international terminal for ease of access for the public.

In a statement, the spokesman for President Buhari, Mr Garba Shehu, quoted the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, as saying that the Federal Government injected $461 million into the airport projects.

The new terminal of Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa is expected to change the poor rating by Sleep in Airports in 2017, which listed the airport as the third worst in the world.

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