By Kenneth Jukpor
The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has lambasted the Ministry of Aviation over its failure to publicize the details of the N1billion Chinese loan collected to repair airports and how the money was spent.
APFFLON’s National President, Mr. Frank Ogunojemite urged the Aviation Ministry to clear the air on the N1billion borrowed to finance repairs of four international airports in the country.
The APFFLON boss frowned at the Aviation Ministry’s failure to clarify the N1billion borrowed fund, noting that the Ministry’s silence would further heighten suspicion of slush fund.
Recall that the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika recently disclosed that the Ministry exhausted N1billion borrowed from China on airport repairs which would have been prevented if the plans to concession the airports were introduced earlier.
This statement has left aviation stakeholders perplexed as the industry had been oblivious of the Chinese loan reportedly collected to maintain the international airports in the country.
Although the Minister posited that the money was collected before the idea of concessioning the airports emerged, some stakeholders believe that the loan venture is a slush fund in the Ministry as they have demanded a breakdown of the repairs at the airports.
The Director of Public Relations, Ministry of Aviation, Mr. James Odaudu assured our correspondent that the Ministry would provide the details of the expenditure on the Chinese loan last week.
“At this moment, I wouldn’t be able to give details of the loan such as when it was collected and the specific purposes for which it was utilized. However, I can avail you these details on Monday next week (last week),” Odaudu told MMS Plus on Friday, in the penultimate week.
Despite this promise, the Aviation Ministry Spokesman failed to provide the expenditure details throughout the week as industry operators still expect the clarification which should have been done on Monday.
Some aviation stakeholders have posited that the N1billion sum quoted by the Aviation Minister is an understatement as the air travel sector has carried out major infrastructure rehabilitations in recent times, including the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport runway repairs which cost N5.8billion in 2017 and the rehabilitation of the runway at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu which cost N8.5billion earlier this year.
Meanwhile, in a bid to address the lacuna in regulating freight forwarding services in the aviation sector, APFFLON has also called for the ongoing amendment in the Establishing Act of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The Association wants an opening for the Ministry of Aviation as supervisors to the air cargo business at the airports similar to the Ministry of Transportation’s role in CRFFN.
Ogunojemite made these appeals during an exclusive chat with MMS Plus newspaper yesterday, lamenting that the freight forwarding business in the aviation sector isn’t sufficiently regulated.