By Lizzy Okoji
Amb. Oludare Awoniyi, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has said that both countries are in talks to establish direct Air link to foster trade relations between Africa and South America.
Awoniyi made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Caracas.
He noted that presently, it takes an exhausting 40 hours of travel across both continents for a journey that should take only eight hours.
The Ambassador said that the Air link will not only be beneficial to Nigeria and Venezuela, but also other countries of Africa, South America and the world in general.
He said both countries would serve as transit hub for travellers, thereby, boosting their economies.
“Right now, we have to travel about 40 hours to get here through Turkish Airlines and we are thinking of the possibilities of linking Nigeria with Venezuela direct.
“Caracas to Lagos, Abuja and maybe a city like Maracaibo here so that we have two stops in Nigeria and two stops in Venezuela to bring our people closer.
“The distance is particularly important because the air travel does not necessarily in itself generate much income for nations, but it does generate the links to do business.
“You can now ship and link goods and products after meetings and agreements. You can now use ships to move goods in mass because airlines cannot meet the quantities.
“But that ability to quickly go and come helps businesses. For example, if we have direct links we will be flying to Nigeria in eight hours because of the equatorial winds.
“And if you can travel fifteen hours to and fro, it means that technically, you can live in Lagos, come to Caracas, visit a factory or a farm, do your agreement and fly back, then the business itself will continue.
“It is easier for Nigeria to get in a different direction now because they can get it faster there, but if we get an air link, it will strengthen the relationship more,” Awoniyi said.
The envoy said that Nigeria and Venezuela have good bilateral relations which could be further strengthened by establishing an air link.
He said that the bilateral relations improved radically when late President Hugo Chavez visited Nigeria twice and the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo also visited twice.
“There were also visits by Venezuela’s Vice President and Ministers.
“We have very good relations with them and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here is interested in fostering the relationship with Nigeria.
“President Nicolas Maduro has expressed the desire to strengthen relations with Nigeria and improve what we have.
“We have a lot of MoUs and agreements pending their implementation. We have twenty-five of them, ten have been signed, fifteen are been reviewed.
“We are hoping that we can begin implementation of those agreements and when we do, the relationship is even going to be closer,” Awoniyi said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)