Keyamo: Public, Private Partnership Key to Development of Airport Infrastructure

Festus Keyamo, Aviation Minister

Festus Keyamo, Aviation Minister

*Secures commitment for refurbishment of old MMIA terminal

Chinedu Eze

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has acknowledged that public, private partnerships are crucial in the sustainability and modernisation of airport infrastructure.

He disclosed that the federal government had secured commitment  from several corporate bodies in the private sector that would soon embark on refurbishing the arrival and departure areas of Wing D at Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos State.

He also observed that currently there is no infrastructure ministry with the capacity to undertake large-scale projects such as maintaining airports to meet international standards; therefore, a public-private partnership is the most viable option.

“There is no ministry now that is an infrastructure ministry that has the capacity by the envelope system to develop those big projects. The envelope system means the budgeting process because we are always running a deficit budget.

“So if we’re running a deficit budget how are we going to ensure that we carry out those big projects? It’s not possible by the budgeting system. So those infrastructure ministries are FCT, Works, Housing, Blue Economy, Aviation, and maybe one or two others. Those are the infrastructure ministries.

“It is only by way of PPPs we can progress along that line, we can turn things around. So for those who complain that our infrastructure is decrepit, the airports are not as good as they should be, they don’t meet international standards, I’ve just been eight months in office.

“There’s nobody who can build big infrastructure within even two years or three years; and that’s a fact. What you can do is to maintain what you have, make them a bit comfortable and serviceable and customer friendly while you work on the big issues,” he said.

He added: “We are looking at bringing in the private sector, which we have started doing already with the collaboration of the minister of interior, we both collaborated on that, we have changed the arrival wing, the D-wing of the International Airport.

“Shell came in and did a lot for us there, I’m sure you have seen it. That’s a beautiful entrance now into Nigeria. The wing E, that’s the arrival, we are concentrating on D and E and we are talking to one or two people now, corporate bodies, they are just about to start their own but Shell has done their own for us.”

Keyamo stated that Wing D for both departure and arrival and the arrival of Wing-E were about starting because the departure of Wing-E had just been completed .

“So, those are the low-hanging fruits we are looking at just to turn things around. The bigger picture is that we need to turn these terminal buildings into proper hubs and that would mean a complete reconstruction of most of these international airports,” he said.

The Minister noted that for local airlines to remain commercially viable and sustainable, both the private and public sectors must collaborate to ensure that Nigerian travellers are not overly dependent on foreign airlines.

“It’s a multi-pronged approach we have on that issue (airlines) because it’s not just one approach that will solve that problem. One, you want to make sure they survive, they are viable commercially and then, of course, you want to ensure that the flying public also has the best deal in terms of pricing of tickets.

“Now you just mentioned one of them, to support them, make sure they survive, support their bid to get to challenge other airlines on international routes so that we don’t leave our International routes at the mercy of foreign airlines who come here to exploit our people,” Keyamo said.

He stressed that to improve the efforts of the ministry, a re-orientation of the workers was imperative.

“For the low-hanging fruits, how do we maintain what we have seen on the ground? First of all, we are trying to change the attitude of the civil servants who are supposed to run these airports, we’re trying to change their mentality.

“I’ve said in another programme that most of them are not primed by their training, by their bicycle-like attitude, even by the motivation they give to them, the kind of salaries they receive, they’re not primed to raise their game and make these airports as customer-friendly as they should be,” he added.

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