The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Saleh Dunoma, told the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Aviation on Tuesday that most of the facilities and equipment at the nation’s airports were obsolete as most of them were acquired over 30 years ago.
Dunoma said this while responding to questions from senators on the reasons for the rating of the nation’s airports among the worst on the continent by an international aviation agency.
He lamented that the equipment and facilities at the airports like the generators, air conditioners, elevators and conveyor belts were not functioning as expected because the agency could not afford modern ones to replace old ones.
He cited an instance when the FAAN management invited the manufacturers of a giant generator installed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos from Germany to help fix the faulty power plant.
According to him, the manufacturers said it would be difficult to fix the generator because the brand was no longer in circulation and even expressed surprise that the generator, which was as old as the airport itself, was still functional because the parts were no longer in stock.
Dunoma regretted that the facilities were being overstretched because new ones had not been acquired in recent years.
He, however, expressed confidence that efforts were being made to acquire new ones as part of the remodelling project going on in all the nation’s airports.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Hajia Binta Bello, said budgetary provisions alone were not enough to transform the nation’s airports, stressing that a former minister in the ministry, Stella Oduah, made use of intervention funds to execute her remodelling project.
Bello lamented the state of the Port Harcourt airport, especially the departure wing, and attributed its condition to the non-completion of the remodelling project started by the last administration.
She hinted that the committee set up to work out the possibility of setting up a national carrier had concluded its work and that the ministry had submitted the report to President Muhammadu Buhari for approval.
“We are waiting for President Buhari’s approval so that we can take the draft bill to the Federal Executive Council; once it is approved, everything about the project is ready,” she said.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Tuesday warned airline operators in the country to improve on their services or face tougher sanctions.
The House said it had observed a gradual decline in adherence to aviation industry best practices by many of the airlines, particularly in the area of “consumer protection.”
In a resolution passed in Abuja, the House also noted that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority appeared not to be doing its work of ensuring that the airlines complied with regulations set by the agency.
“The House is concerned that the NCAA has not done enough to ensure that airline operators abide by Part 19 of the Consumer Protection Regulation of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation, 2006,” the resolution stated.
A member from Lagos State, Rita Orji, had moved a motion on the need for the airlines in the country to “adhere to international standard practices as obtained in most parts of the world.”
The motion provided members an opportunity to recount harrowing experiences that most passengers go through daily in their bid to travel by air in Nigeria.