Reps raise concern over infrastructure decay at airports, seek FG’s intervention

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnaji Nnolim have raised concern over infrastructure decay at most of the country’s airports, particularly the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos.

The duo called for the Federal Government’s intervention to help the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) fix the aging infrastructure at the various airports especially Lagos and Abuja which are the major gateways.

Their appeal was sequel to an earlier explanation by the FAAN Managing Director, Captain Rabiu Yadudu that the Murtala Mohammed International Airport which is over 43 years old required a total overhaul, hinting that all the facilities had been overstretched beyond their life span.

He also disclosed that the airport generates 70 percent of the authority’s total annual revenue with other airports across the country relying on what Lagos generates for survival.

 

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

The appalling state of Nigerian airports could have given rise to the planned concession of four of the major airports.

Not a few were of the view that had FAAN done well with resources at its disposal by providing world-class aerodromes, perhaps nobody would be talking about concession or privatisation.

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The truth of the matter is that FAAN is highly inefficient, corrupt, and unable to develop ideas that would bring the aerodromes at par with countries such as South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt, and others.

The Speaker had directed Nnaji to invite the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) Captain Rabiu Yadudu, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, and the leaderships of all the agencies involved in the facilitation of passengers and goods at the airports including the Special Assistant to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole to discuss the issues of touting and extortions at the airports.

Gbajabiamila who expressed his displeasure at what he described as viral videos circulating on social media about the ugly scenes at Nigeria’s International Airports said he had to ask Nnaji to call for the meeting to see how such national embarrassment could be arrested forthwith.

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Also in her comments, the Special Adviser to the President on the Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole expressed appreciation to the leadership of the House of Representatives and the Aviation Committee Chairman Nnolim Nnaji for the initiative adding that the situations at the nation’s prime gateways remained a huge embarrassment to the country.

She shared the views of Nnaji that the kind of image some of the officials at the airports present of the nation could not in any way promote the philosophy behind the Ease of Doing Business stressing that such was capable of scaring foreign investors.

Consequently, the House of Representatives is spearheading a major reform of the nation’s international airports in support of the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business, (EODB) initiative that will usher in a single security screening point for arriving and departing passengers.

At the end of the crucial interaction which lasted for hours, Gbajabiamila based on the contributions from the stakeholders on how to achieve international best practices urged Nnaji and other relevant Committees’ Chairmen to work with the heads of the aviation agencies to come up within two weeks a Bill that would ensure a single security outfit similar to Transport Security Administration, ( TSA) in the United  States of America that would take charge of security at the airports.

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Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu

He also said that the menace of touting and extortion at the airports must be tackled squarely with more stringent measures adding that the problems remained unabated because there were no severe consequences.

The Speaker stressed that traveling through the airports must be made as seamless as possible noting that the level of stress and discomfort travelers go through at the nation’s prime gateways must be eliminated.

His words, “Our airports must give travelers the comfort they deserve, the facilities must work” he added noting that the situation must change forthwith”.

Wole Shadare