The Nigerian Government says it has concluded arrangement to appoint the Transaction Adviser for the concession of the big four airports in the country.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, disclosed this during an inspection tour at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Wednesday.
Sirika said the government would concession the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos; Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; Abuja and Port Harcourt International Airports.
He said that government would go ahead with the concession of the airports through Public Private Partnership, adding that the asset will ultimately come back to the Nigerian people.
“This will take time because we have to respond to law and due process and the government is in the process of appointing a Transaction Adviser.
“We have already been to Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), they have posted a staff to us and they are also partnering with us to see that we have a very smooth activity.
“The Transaction Adviser would be the one to guide the process and I am sure that government will not hesitate to give us the liberty that is critical in the appointment.
“Going forward, we do believe that in this current situation that the country has found itself, the new challenge, sources of revenue are dwindling and the rate of foreign exchange is not favourable.
“In accordance with global best practices, it is not wise for us to continue to take the burden of running these airports,’’ the minister said.
Sirika also explained that the construction of the second runway for Abuja airport would be carried out by whoever takes over the running of the airport after the concession.
He said the airport was built in 1982, and that the runway at the time was designed and constructed with its load bearing capacity to last for 20 years.
According to him, this means that from somewhere around 2002, the runway is expected to fail and of course, it is common knowledge that the runway is where aircraft take-off and land.
“In the last 14 years or so, there has not been any major repair on this particular runway that we have in Abuja and to compound issues, it is only one runway that we have here.
“We have just inspected the runway to see where it has failed in the most portions of it.
“However, government did not just fold its alms and watch it and in the wisdom of Mr President, he has ordered for short term repairs to be able to put the runway into use.
“I had to brief him that we need to shut the runway from 3.6 kilometres to two to avoid that failed section for some number of days.
“This means that certain particular airplanes would not have been able to land in Abuja airport,’’ he said.
Sirika disclosed that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had responded and carried out some repairs, adding that the runway could now be used.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved funds for major repair of the runway to the degree that it could last for some decades while new runway would be constructed subsequently.
He said “this is by no means solving the problem of the 34-year-old runway meant to last for 20 years”.
The minister said the government’s ultimate desire was to deliver a safe and secured aviation industry for the country, adding that the importance of aviation to the nation’s economy could not be over-emphasised.
On the scarcity of aviation fuel (JET A1), he said the ministry was discussing with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to address the issue.
But the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr Ibe Kachikwu, who was in the company of Sirika, told newsmen that the supply of Jet A1 was not within the purview of NNPC.
Kachikwu said that discussion was on with marketers of the product to ensure the immediate availability of the product to ease the problem created by the scarcity.
Howeever, he assured that for a long term solution the government was considering the repair of the facilities at the refineries to refine the product locally.