…As Committee Frowns At Pace Of Work
…NCAA Canvasses For Aviation To Be Given Priority In Allocating Forex
…Says Domestic Airlines No Enjoys Free Duty On Aircraft, Spares
Indications emerged Wednesday that the international terminal at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos under construction by Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) will not be delivered to the Federal Government in December, 2016 as revealed to the House Committee on Aviation by the contractor.
The Committee disclosed this through its Chairman, Mrs Nkeiruka Onyejeocha while speaking to journalists shortly after the committee carried out oversight function on some facilities at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos today.
The Chairman, who decried the pace of work on the terminal project, told aviation correspondents that the contractor said that he would not be able to meet the deadline of December, 2016,
She stated that with the snail speed at which the project was going on, she doubt if the contractor would be able deliver the project to the Federal Government in December 2016 as earlier planned ,wondering why the construction should be slow when there is an agreement to that effect.
According to her, ‘They said they won’t be able to deliver by December but I them know that they should understand that we took loan to build this and the Chinese government is not going to wait for us because agreements have been signed. So the repayment period would start when it would start unless they go back to drawing board to renegotiate and you know we have three other terminals that we are hopeful would be delivered by December and so what it simply means is that Lagos is lagging behind and we would take it seriously.”
On the planned concession of airports, the Committee stated that it would call for public hearing on the planned concession of four major airports in the country by the Federal Government to ascertain the true position of things to decide whether to go ahead or not.
Onyejeocha stated that the committee would look into the planned concession by organising public hearing for stakeholders, which include airline operators, agencies, unions and the media
He added that the essence of the public is to hear from all the stakeholders in the industry, adding that on her personal opinion she does not think concession is the best solution considering the fact that the four airports to be concessioned are the ones feeding other 18 other airports in the country.
According to the Onyejeocha, ”I am one person who don’t believe that we should concession the four major airports that we have because I know it is those four airports that are funding the other 18 international airports and of course you have to look at the issue of workers and of course the Nigerian people as a whole. If we concession them and people are going to make money and be okay, why can’t we do it?
He continued, “Having said, I also know that we are going to conduct public hearing where we would take all the issues together, where we would be able to ask Nigerians and of course the key players in aviation industry; the stakeholders including the workers, the press to tell us what you think. We would also look at the issues of the concession that has been done in the past. We have to evaluate. How has it helped, how did we do it? Did we get any benefit from it? And if we have, then we see where we are going to do the same. If we have not, then why? What are we going to do differently? So I believe that very soon by next week Nigerian people are going to talk to us on the issue of concession. I don’t want it to be my personal opinion. We are going to listen to Nigerians, we are going to listen to stakeholders, we are going to listen to all aviators and we are going to listen to the Ministry themselves.”
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA),Capt Usman Muhtar has appealed to the House Committee on Aviation to enact a law that will enable the aviation industry to access foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN).
He made the appeal when the committee led by its Chairman, Nkiruka Onyejeocha visited the agency yesterday at NCAA headquarter at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.
The NCAA posited that one of the major problem of the airline operating in the country is the non availability of Foreign Exchange(Forex) for airlines to carry out maintenance and for the industry to carry out training of its personnel.
He pointed out that both maintenance of airlines’ airplanes and training of personnel are Forex denominated, soliciting that aviation should be given priority in the allocation of Forex.
The NCAA boss posited that when the domestic airlines are considered in the allocation of Forex it would further make it easier for NCAA to maintain standard.
On the outcome of the meeting between the industry and the CBN, the DG said that they were able to get free duty on aircraft and spares and that the foreign airlines were also allowed to get 50 per cent of their Forex for their operations, adding that NCAA will continue to do to ensure that airline operators remain business.
However, the Committee asked NCAA to strengthen the economic regulation of the agency to further improve safety of domestic airlines in the country.
It also asked the NCAA to look at the corporate governance of domestic airlines, their structure and ownership, adding the ‘Na Me get am” attitude of these airlines is affecting their operations.