Why we are against airport concession plan – Reps

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Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation have once again demonstrated their strong opposition to the proposed concession of some of the nation’s airports.

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The group made their position known recently during an oversight visit on aviation agencies and tour of airport facilities.

The 18-member delegation who were in Lagos to ascertain how the sector was faring in times of recession was led by the committee chairman, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejiocha.

During the tour, Onyejiocha said, “I am one person who don’t believe that we should concession the four major airports that we have because I know it is those four airports that are funding the other 18 international airports and of course you have to look at the issue of workers and of course the Nigerian people as a whole. If we concession them and people are going to make money and be okay, why can’t we do it.

“Having said so, I also know that we are going to conduct public hearing where we would take all the issues together, where we would be able to ask Nigerians and of course the key players in aviation industry; the stakeholders including the workers, the press to tell us what you think. We would also look at the issues of the concession that has been done in the past. We have to evaluate. How has it helped, how did we do it? Did we get any benefit from it? And if we have, then we see where we are going to do the same. If we have not, then why? What are we going to do differently?” Onyejiocha queried.

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The committee chairman added “So I believe that very soon by next week Nigerian people are going to talk to us on the issue of concession. I don’t want it to be my personal opinion. We are going to listen to Nigerians, we are going to listen to stakeholders, we are going to listen to all aviators and we are going to listen to the Ministry themselves.”

According to her, the committee would call for a public hearing with stakeholders to discuss the proposed concession of some airports in the country.

The public hearing, according to the committee chairman, was to get the input of industry players on the concession of airports, stressing that her personal view was that concession may not be the best way to go by giving out airports that were yielding revenue to government.

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She said, “They said they won’t be able to deliver by December but I want them to know that they should understand that we took loan to build this and the Chinese government is not going to wait for us because agreements have been signed.

“So the repayment period would start when it would start unless they go back to drawing board to renegotiate and you know we have three other terminals that we are hopeful would be delivered by December and so what it simply means is that Lagos is lagging behind and we would take it seriously,” she added.

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The committee however, pointed out that given the current pace of work at the new international terminal of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, the contractors may not be able to deliver the project in December as earlier promised by the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) which is handling the project.

At the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the committee members urged the regulatory authority to take urgent steps to ensure more domestic carriers did not collapse.

They said recent challenges affecting domestic carriers has attracted their attention urging the NCAA to step up efforts to ensure sustainability of the struggling carriers.

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