By Chinedu Eze
A coalition of socio-economic organisations has commended the federal governmentâ€™s efforts to improve aviation facilities and the enhanced seamless flight operations in Nigeria since the introduction of ease of doing business.
The group, which consists of theÂ Market Youth Congress of Nigeria, Igbo Traders Support Group on Good Governance and Yoruba Women Traders Support Group, said that despite the economic challenges, the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration has been able to improve navigational aids, airport facilities and introduced policies to encourage domestic airlines.
The coalition, which was convened by Hon. Chidiebere Oko commended the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and noted that Sirika’s tenure as the minister in charge of the sectorÂ has given Nigeria the highest rating in air safety and under whom the nationâ€™s busiest airports were certified for the first time in the history of Nigeria.
Spokesman of the coalition, Chief Victor Amadi told journalists at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos at the weekend that whenÂ Sirika was appointed, on-going airport projects were abandoned, including the new terminals, but the narrative changed when the minister swung into action to address the infrastructural deficit in the sector.
Â “We recall that the Kaduna airport was merely functional in the sense that there was passenger facilitation. But we recall that the passenger terminal was in total disrepair and out of use because the failed remodeling programme of the previous administration left it in disuse.
“After searching for any way possible to totally rehabilitate the runway of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja while flights were going on and it became obvious that for efficient work to be carried out at the airport, it must be closed; the Minister decided to rejuvenate the Kaduna airport.
“At that moment, passengers were being facilitated through the hajj terminal of the airport, so the Minster decided to rebuild the terminal. To upgrade the airport to the standard that international airlines can operate to the airport, Senator Sirika extend the runway of the airport. He also brought in Category 3 Instrument Landing System and upgraded the control tower. He also improved the VOR of the airport and improved communication between the control tower and the pilot,” Amadi added.
He added that â€œtoday Kaduna airport processes passenger for international flights and Ethiopia Airlines is operating from there. No one can imagine that this could happen to this airport before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.â€
Â OnÂ the rehabilitation of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport runway, Abuja,Â the minister, he noted, ensured that other works were going on at the Abuja airport. â€œThe terminal was improved; expanded and new departures were created at the ground floor of the airport. Not only that new lifts were installed so that those who are physically challenged could use the lifts to the departures.â€
OnÂ Lagos airport, the coalition reiterated that plansÂ have been completed to install Category 3 Instrument Landing System at the Lagos Airport, adding that the minister had promised that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration would concentrate in providing safety critical projects at the airside of the airports across the country and in keeping with that promise he has been rehabilitating the airport runways, installing and building perimeter fences to improve security at the airports.
“When the Buhari administration took office, the new terminals at the five international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu were practically abandoned. But work at these projects was revived and today the projects are at advance level of completion and before the end of this year they would be put to service,” he said stressed.
Â Speaking earlier, the Conveyner of the coalition, Okoh, said Sirika has improved security at the nationâ€™s airports. â€œBefore the administration took over in 2015, the Aviation Security of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria was grossly understaffed. The minister directed for massive recruitment and training of AVSEC personnel in terms of equipment more modern sophisticated security equipment were procured and distributed at the various airportsâ€, he added.