The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has cleared the air over the purported closure and reopening of Osubi Airstrip in Warri, Delta state.
There has been controversy over the withdrawal of air traffic control services at the airport on September 1 which led to the shutdown of the airstrip to flights operation.
NAMA had reportedly withdrawn its service over alleged huge indebtedness amounting to over N500m by Shoreline Oil Services Limited, operator of the airstrip.
The shutdown of the mini airport used by oil companies and members of the public has attracted condemnation from stakeholders who said NAMA overreached its boundaries by shutting down the airport.
Daily Trust reports that the operators of the airstrip had accused NAMA of extortion, saying the claim of over 500m indebtedness was bogus.
While NAMA claims N17.7 million monthly levies from Shoreline, the operator insists “the agreement former owners, Shell, had with NAMA was to pay N2.975 million monthly.”
But the General Manager, Public Affairs of NAMA, Mr. Khalid Emele in a statement said following appeals from well-meaning stakeholders and in consideration of the overall interest of the air travel public, it has resumed air traffic services at Osubi airstrip.
He also confirmed the payment of N31m by Shoreline which according to him, was part payment of accumulated charges for the provision of air traffic services at the airstrip by NAMA.
“The payment leaves Shoreline Oil Services with a debt balance of N566, 422, 000.50 as of today, the 28th October, 2018”, he said.
The statement read in part: “We recall that we took the difficult decision to withdraw air traffic services to Osubi airstrip after Shoreline Oil Services persistently refused to honour financial obligation to us despite several entreaties”.
The agency also clarified that it was not responsible for the shutdown of the airstrip, saying it doesn’t have such statutory or physical powers.
“We merely withdrew air traffic services to the airstrip but we did not shut it down”, the statement said.