Despite huge funding, Nigeria’s aviation is still faced with so many challenges such as infrastructure and manpower development, former Assistant Secretary General of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Tukur, has said.
Speaking with Woleshadare.net, he explained that over N3 trillion had been spent to revive the sector in the last 10 years without commensurate upgrade except for pockets of little changes here and there.
So many wastages were perpetrated especially in the last six years where over N500billion was reportedly spent to upgrade many of the aerodromes, which experts said were hurriedly and ‘shoddily’ done.
With at least 26 airports scattered across the country, only four are considered to be viable. First is the MMIA that has had long history of less than efficient services expected of a modern airport.
Others, in the order of their traffic pull, profitability and standard, are the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwu; and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
The huge capital outlay notwithstanding, none of the aerodromes till date rivals the likes of Cape Town or Johannesburg International Airports both in South Africa; Cairo International Airport or those in Botswana or Addis Ababa.
Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, recently admitted the deplorable state when he lamented that no Nigerian airport today is fit for aviation hub services that the country used to be in the days of Nigeria Airways.
“We cannot grow with our airports in the current state,” he submitted. “No way! You cannot create a hub with Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos or Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, as they are, or the ones in Port Harcourt and Kano.
“Some of the recent high-capacity airplanes that are flying around the world like the Airbus 380s and Boeing 777s and so on are just too sophisticated and too large to be handled by our airports at the moment. The atmosphere within these airports is not anything to talk about. It is really difficult for us to attract passengers to them.”
What the minister didn’t say, though implied, is that most of the airports, including the so-called internationals, could hardly boast of uninterrupted power supply, functional toilet facility, cooling system, escalator, travellator and carousels that are common features in modern aerodromes.
Chief Executive Officer of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, Capt. Jari Williams put Nigeria’s current infrastructure deficit at $200 billion.
Williams, who quoted the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), spoke at a conference on privatisation/concession of Nigerian airports held in Lagos recently.
Consequently, he said sadly, that aviation has not been spared in the wind of controversial concessions, which he said have either failed or have been stalled by government. He, however, threw his weight behind the planned concession of the four major airports by government.
His words: “There are no two ways to save our almost derelict airport terminals than concession. Seeing the way MMA2 is being managed, the immediate past Minister of Aviation had recommended that more airports be taken away from FAAN and handed over to private managers.
“It is good that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, accepted this recommendation without any sentiment or partisanship because it is a brilliant idea; it remains the best way out of the bad situation the country’s airport terminals are in right now.”
The Federal Government had, in the wake of infrastructure deficit in the aviation sector, contracted Bi- Courtney to build an airport terminal under the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis seven years ago.