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ECCIMA laments continued closure of Int’l flights to Enugu airport

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… unveils 33rd Enugu Int’l Trade Fair Catalogue

The Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, ECCIMA, on Wednesday, lamented the closure of International Flight to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, describing it as unfortunate.

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It called on the Federal Government for an immediate resumption of international flights to the airport to alleviate the suffering of business communities are going through in the South East.

The president of ECCIMA, Prince Emeka Nwandu, who made the appeal at a press conference to unveil the 33rd Enugu International Trade Fair Catalogue & Marketing take off, said that the continued closure of International Flights to Enugu has compounded the economic strangulation of businesses in the South East.

Speaking on the Fair with the theme: “Opening up Nigerian Business Windows for Competitiveness in the Emerging Global Market”, Nwandu who was represented by the ECCIMA first vice president, Mr Jasper Nduagwuike, said opening up the airport for international flights will not only help the people of the South East but will equally help exhibitors to the forthcoming Fair, land directly to Enugu instead of going through Abuja or Lagos before coming to Enugu.

He lamented that air travellers had to travel all the way to Lagos or Abuja instead of taking off from the upgraded and renovated international airport Enugu, pointing out that before now, Ethiopian Airline that used to land at the Airport is no longer coming to Enugu and wondered what must have transpired.

“It is disheartening and unfortunate that international flights are not coming to Enugu and this is hampering economic activities in the South East as well as affect the trade fairs in Enugu.

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“Ethiopian Airline used to come to Enugu and something happened and they stopped; we fill that the concentration of the quantum of commercial and economic activities that happens in the South East that international flights should have continue flying to the airport, but for whatever it is the South East deserve a functional international airport.

“There is no way around it. We have to be sincere to ourselves, the South East deserve a functional international airport. Close to 50 per cent of goods that come through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos lands in Onitsha and Nnewi. So why won’t people land through Enugu airport? Why will you go to Lagos or Abuja if you want to travel out of the country? You will get to Lagos to get a connecting flight, because if you go by road only God knows when you will get to Lagos.

“Unless you leave very early and you are leaving very early means either you are flying to Lagos because if you go by road only God knows when you are going to get there. Unfortunately, Lagos that used to be a journey of eight hours is now a journey of 18 to 20 hours, in some cases you arrive the next day.

“Will continue our advocacy that Enugu international airport be made functional. If it is designated as a cargo airport let us use it as a cargo airport. Let us allow flight to come there. There is this argument that big flight may not be able to land, no problem let’s big flight land in Lagos let the small ones land in Enugu. It will help to bring down the problems that we experience commerce and economic activities in the South East. Definitely it will affect the 33th International Trade Fair, people will have to consider how much they are going to spend coming from Lagos carrying goods to Enugu while they can bring it in a direct flight to Enugu.”

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Nwandu, however, disclosed that the 33rd Enugu International Trade Fair, will hold between March 25 to April 4, 2022, while expressing optimism that international flights might resume before then.

On the preparation for the 33rd Enugu International Trade Fair, Nwandu appealed that facilities at the Fair should be upgraded so that Nigeria could better be showcased to the world, pointing out that the Fair shows the entire image of the country not that of ECCIMA or Enugu State alone.

He said that they have been making case for the upgrading of facilities at the Fair to be like other international trade fairs since the Fair is for the whole nation.

“We have been appealing for the upgrading of facilities at the Enugu International Trade Fair Complex. It has become a mantra that we have always asked the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry that facilities at the Fair should be upgraded.

“What we are showcasing is the whole Nigeria, not just Enugu Trade Fair or Enugu State,” he said.

To make the Fair a bit different from previous fairs, Nwandu said that they will going to introduce insurance of exhibitors so that they do not loose their wares or suffer any harm, pointing out that any exhibitor that suffers any damage in the course of moving goods in or around the Fair will be compensated.

“The Fair Insurance is if people (exhibitors) who come, and in the course of the Fair suffer fire, injury, the insurance arrangement will make good the damage. If a person has a fracture, the person will be compensated.”

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