By Peter Usman://
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has said that the Federal Government will complete all outstanding Aviation projects before 2023 when President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to handover political power to a new government.
Sirika stated this in Lagos at the 25th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC with the theme: ‘Nigeria’s Aviation Industry: Management, Policy and Regulation,’ in his keynote address.
He also revealed that Nigeria has no fewer than 89 Bilateral Air Service Agreement, BASA arrangements with countries, while 15 others have indicated readiness to sign additional agreements with the country , 13 others are in the threshold of re-negotiation the existing agreements.
The Minister who was represented at the occasion by Engr. Akin Olateru, the Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau-Nigeria, AIB-N , said ” that all hands were on deck to ensure that the government completed all the ongoing projects in the sector.”
Sirika listed the projects as” the ongoing construction of the new terminal at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMA, which commenced in 2013″.
” The $600 million; $500 million loan deal secured from China and the $100 million counterpart funding from the Federal Government for the project which had commenced in 2013 with a completion period of 20 months.”
Recall the two chairmen of Aviation Committees in the Senate and House of Representatives had last week raised the alarm over the alleged abandonment of the project, which they said had reached over 90 per cent completion stage.
Responding to the alarm raised, the Minister said,“We are committed to achieving the completion of outstanding projects we have set out for ourselves before our term runs out.
“We have a vision of a sector that will provide utmost comfort, safety, and security for majority of passengers”
He further assured that the ministry has a clear roadmap for the development of the sector in Nigeria, stressing that it would ensure its growth to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP through its policies and programmes.
He, however, regretted the negative impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the sector and quoted the statistics from the International Air Transport Association, IATA, which put the revenue loss in Nigeria at ” $994 million in 2020, unemployment; 125,370 and loss of contribution to the GDP at $885 million”.
According to him, in a bid to improve the operating environment for investors in the sector, ” government ensured zero import duties on aircraft engine and spare parts, special foreign exchange window for the aviation sector, improved availability of aviation fuel, restructured the aviation agencies, improved safety and security.”
” Others are upgrade of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, NCAT, Zaria into a regional centre of excellence, introduction of policies on remotely piloted aircraft and employment policies on the enforcement of expatriate quota for the system,” he said.