- Needs N5bn to relocate control tower, fire station
- Minister: More aviation workers to go
The Federal Government is in a dilemma over what to do with new Abuja airport terminal following report that the terminal was wrongly sited as it blocks the control tower and the fire service station at the aerodrome.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while briefing the media late Saturday night after over eight hours meeting with airline operators, aviation unions, and service providers, among others, said the government is considering pulling down the control tower and the fire station, moving them to another location to guarantee safety.
He noted that a new control tower would gulp about N3 billion, while a new fire station would cost nearly N2 billion. Sirika, who was short of calling the $500 million Chinese loan a waste, said if he had his way, the amount would have been used to make Lagos airport the pride of the nation and make it a hub in West Africa because of its strategic location in the country.
His words: “The Chinese terminal is a loan of $500 million and $100 million counterpart funding from Nigeria. The Abuja terminal that is nearing completion is blocking the control tower and fire service station.
Because it has been built, we need to knock down the N3 billion control tower and knock down the fire station, which will cost about N2 billion. Same thing with the one in Lagos, which is sitting on heavy cables.
“If I have that $500 million, I will use it to develop the Murtala Muhammed Airport as hub of aviation in Nigeria and West Africa.” Nigeria and China had, in 2013, signed several loans and eight Memoranda of Understanding in Beijing, China, as well as a $500 million loan for construction of the four new international airport terminals in Abuja and three other states at a concessionary rate of 2.5 per cent interest.
The other three locations for new international terminals are Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano. Chinese construction giant, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), which handles the contracts, assured it would deliver the four new airport terminals in March 2015.
While China provided the loan, Nigerian government provided $100 million counterpart funds for a project that was expected to be completed between 12 and 18 months.
The new terminal in Lagos is also said to be wrongly sited, sitting on pale of heavy and delicate cables that supply power and switches to the entire airport environment.
Meanwhile, Sirika also disclosed that government would carry out more sack of people in the sector, adding that the demotion and sack recently carried out in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) would be extended to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).
According to Sirika, the restructuring became imperative because of the top-heaviness in these agencies with a combined total of 88 general managers on grade level 17 and above on the payroll, especially those unqualified. He said that government was handling the restructuring in phases and this will go around leaving a leaner and more effective agency instead of the over-bloated workforce that has provided little or no impact in the system.
The minister stated that FAAN Aviation Security (AVSEC) will now be well-trained like the United States Transportation Security Administration (USTSA) so that they can carry guns, whistles and other weapons. Sirika stated that very soon, the face of AVSEC would change as the federal government has granted approval for them to carry guns.
He said the ministry is working with the Ministry of Interior to ensure that AVSEC officials are well trained to bear arms and also to determine what kind of arms they will need for their duties.
He stated further that the meeting with the stakeholders became necessary to appraise the progress so far made in implementing the aviation roadmap and also to address some of the issues raised by the unions and other stakeholders concerning airport concession.
Sirika observed that there are still challenges in the industry ranging from problem of foreign exchange, the rising cost and scarcity of aviation fuel, Jet A1, waiver on aircraft spare parts, enforcement on expatriate quota, among others.
He observed that the enforcement of expatriate quota in the aviation industry becomes necessary to stop the foreigners from taking Nigerian jobs in the industry.
– New Telegraph