Nigeria’s airports underdeveloped, grossly underutilized – House committee

Abiodun OBA     |       

Nigeria’s airports have been said to not just being underdeveloped, but also grossly underutilized.

The Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Mr. Nnolim Nnaji, asserted on Thursday in Lagos at the 2019

Nigeria Travels Mart Colloquium, themed: Airports Concession and Options for Airports Development in Nigeria.
He therefore called for unbundling of the ahead of move to concession major airports in Nigeria.

Recall that the Federal Government has begun the process to concession Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt Airports to make them at par with their contemporaries across the globe.

Nnaji said the biggest challenge of privatisation may be immediate job loss resulting from downsizing as the airports presently absorb lots of Nigerians seeking for jobs.

Nnaji confirmed that he was in support of the recommendation of the Nigeria’s Annual Airport Business Summit reports that FAAN should be unbundled to address the problem of job loss and unemployment.

“The unbundling of FAAN may lead to a more efficient and progressive airport development and an enabling environment that will attract private sector investments and tourism development in Nigeria,” he added.

Nnaji opined that FAAN should be broken into: Nigeria Airport Development Agency, Airport Management Plc and Federal Airports Property Company Ltd., with specific functions that would enhance their efficiency.

Also, African Development Bank (AfDB) Senior Transport Engineer, Mr Patrick Musa, said the Federal Government had approached the bank in 2017 with an Aviation Roadmap that would transform the sector.

Musa said the roadmap included airports concession, establishment of aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility as well as an aerotropolis which needed the contribution of the private sector.

“What this means is that government alone cannot do it and they have to be innovative ways to enable the private sector play bigger roles through the Public Private Partnership (PPP),” he added.
In his comment, a former Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Dapo Olumide, faulted the call for unbundling of FAAN, saying that it would only increase the cost of running the agency.
Olumide said in spite of the legal issues which had trailed concession of the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 between the Federal Government and Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd., the terminal was still the best in Nigeria.

He said transparent concession processes would help Nigeria overcome its aviation infrastructure gaps and enable the country to become a hub.

Earlier, Mr Simon Tumba, Chief Executive Officer, NTM, said the colloquium was to dialogue and proffer lasting solutions on how to improve service delivery in Nigeria’s airports.

Tumba said: “For decades, we have seen the state of our airports, especially our major gateways in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Kano.

“Over the last few years, the Federal Government has made investments to enhance the customers experience in these airports. The truth must be told; we are lagging behind, despite the efforts of FAAN.

“The Federal Government has approved N14 billion to renovate the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos which is nearly 40 million dollars.

“Taking cognisance to the dwindling revenue of the government, very demanding social needs and the increase of our debts profile as a nation, one may say the government is doing its best.

“However, 40 million dollars is not enough for an emerging market like Nigeria, a country with every potential to be a global hub.
“Our humble opinion in NTM is that government should explore a PPP and concession our airports carrying along the workforce at FAAN.”

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