Okpella community in Etsako East local government area of Edo State is poised for a showdown with the state government over a proposed airport to be cited in Uzairue kingdom, it’s neighbour which is in Etsako West local government area saying the project could deprive them of a planned airstrip they said some companies into solid mineral mining and cement production were already planning to build.
Addressing a press conference in the community on Saturday which had elders of the community, youth groups, opinion leaders, politicians, women group and others in attendance, its spokesman, Chief Richard David said what the community expected from the state government was to build infrastructure like road and other amenities that would connect Okpella to other parts of the area for development.
He lamented that Okpella which is the industrial hub of Edo North has been deprived of government presence and development.
Chief David said “It was a thing of joy to the people when the BUA group hinted 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 and hoped that what is required of the government is to give the necessary support and encouragement for this laudable initiative to facilitate its timely completion.
“We had also expected that the government would commit resources to set up auxiliary infrastructures like access roads to and from the aerodrome, supply of water, improved power supply and others.”
He said they were shocked to see 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 where he said the letter wrongly mentioned Okpella as being part of Etsako West Local Government Area. “This action of the FMA, the silence of the Etsako East Council and the body language of the State Government have tended to anger our youths and the generality of the community.
“Our demand is that if the same investors that initiated moves to build an airstrip are the same groups that will eventually be compelled to muster funds for the project, they should be allowed to continue with the ongoing project in Okpella unhindered and uncoerced.
“We are aware of a recent National Assembly resolution urging states to hand off-airport projects in view of funds involved which make most end up as abandoned projects.
“We demand that nothing negative or untoward be done by the government to disrupt or distort the industrial harmony and peace currently prevailing in our community,” he stated.