Africa: Foreign Airlines Call For Improved Infrastructure, Review Of Charges In Nigeria
Stakeholders in the Nigerian aviation industry have called on the Federal Government and its agencies to improve on the existing infrastructure in all the country’s aviation industry.
The players in the sector also canvassed for downward review of charges, saying that the without this, the sector would not be able to contribute to the growth of the industry.
Speaking at a day’s Summit and Awards organised by the Association of Foreign Airlines Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN), stakeholders insisted that the existing infrastructure were obsolete and required upgrade.
Mr. Idris Yakubu, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc, in his presentation noted that the sector recorded abysmal failure in its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because of inadequate infrastructure.
Yakubu whow as represented at the occasion by Mr. Kelechi Amaechi, decried that despite the fact that there is no local aviation, infrastructure at most Nigerian airports could not be compared with those provided in most African countries like Ethiopian, Kenya, South Africa and others.
He insisted that without improved infrastructure, the sector would not be able to attract tourism into the country, stressing that the era of stand-alone was over.
He said: “If our aviation industry is not topnotch, we won’t be able to attract tourism and others into the country. There is need for us to begin to focus on internally generated growth. We also need to device how to attract Forex into the sector and improve Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the sector.”
Also speaking at the occasion, Mr Basil Agboarumi, the Ag. Managing Director of Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL), described aviation industry as the driver of any economy.
He declared that once there was unconscious practice that affects safety in the sector, it would lose its clients to other modes of transportation.
He also decried that ground handling charges in the country was one of the lowest in the world despite the high charges imposed on ground handlers by government agencies in the sector.
“Nigeria has the lowest handling charges in Africa and may be in the world. Many airlines come to Nigeria and give us peanuts, yet, they seek for best services.”
Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma, President of AFARN, in his speech disclosed that cargo and passenger movements had reduced in recent times to 50 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
He told INDEPENDENT in an interview that Ghana had hijacked most cargo exports that should be handled in Nigeria, adding that most foreign airlines had to cut down their passenger and cargo flights owing to economic downturn.
He said: “There has been a decline both in the passenger figure and cargo figures. Everybody is trying to maximize profit. For the cargo, people are now doing ship freighting and of course you need to have money in your pocket for you to go on a vacation. “Cargo has reduced by 50 per cent because before some airlines are doing seven flights into the country but now they are just doing one or two. For passengers I can say 30 per cent that is where we are.
“We need to improve the infrastructure; we need to make sure that the multiple charges are no more there. We need to make sure that infrastructure are up and standing.”
By Olusegun Koiki