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page Aviation half page 2016 budget and bad conditions of airports Despite the ambitious remodeling of some 22 airports across the country recently, many passengers…

page Aviation half page

2016 budget and bad conditions of airports

Despite the ambitious remodeling of some 22 airports across the country recently, many passengers are not satisfied with the services they are getting at our major airports. Our reporter review the various interventions and what the 2016 budget could do differently to change the airport experiences.

By Chris Agabi

A recent research conducted by local travel booking website Travelstart showed passengers are dissatisfied with their experiences at Nigeria’s airports.

The research designed to gauge public sentiment around Nigeria’s airports, posed questions to more than 500 frequent business and leisure travellers. The survey suggested that 92 percent of Nigerians feel the airport experience as a whole does not measure up to an acceptable standard.

According to the report, Murtala Muhammed International Airport was a forerunner in negative sentiment with 77 percent of the survey respondents citing Lagos as the airport they travelled through most regularly.

The “survey respondents ranked a lack of facilities (59%), general conduct of officers of the force such as Immigration, Port Health, Customs (57%) and careless handling of luggage (44%) as the top pain points of traveling through our airports.”

The airports scored low included Lagos (LOS), Abuja (ABV), Port Harcourt (PHC) and Kano (KAN). But there other airports like Kaduna and Calabar that are low on customer experiences as well.

Some three years ago the Federal Government began the ambitious remodeling of some 22 airports across the country to be funded basically through budgetary provisions.

Also the FG commenced the building of some five brand new international terminals in Abuja, Enugu, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt – principally financed from some $500 million facility from China’s EXIM Bank. These terminals will be completed from the end of the year says the Minister of State, Aviation, Capt. Hadi Sirika.

The remodeling of 22 airports were divided into two phases of eleven airports each. Mr. Yakubu Dati, the GM Corporate Communications, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said the following terminals have been completed and commissioned: The general aviation terminals in GAT Abuja and Lagos, the Benin terminal, Hajj Termianl Kaduna, Akuna Ibiam International Airport Enugu and Mallam Aminu International Airport Kano.

Those completed but not commissioned he said include; Katsina airport terminal, Yola airport terminal, Sokoto airport terminal, Owerri airport terminal and Ibadan airport terminal. These bring the total number of terminals done to 13 out 22. He explained the other nine are at different stages of completion but had been stalled largely due to paucity of funds. The exposure to various contractors is estimated at some N100 billion which hindered contractors from continuing work.

Mr. Dati said “the works on the airports will resume when budget is passed. Contractors are saying they must be paid before they resume work in the sites but unless we have budgetary approval, we can’t pay.”

The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, had also said remodeling work will resume at the Port Harcourt International Airport immediately the 2016 budget is passed into law by the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the air conditioning cooling systems at the Abuja airport, domestic wing, is also bad state and it doesn’t chill the hall often populated with travellers. Thus significant improving needs done on the chillers as passengers have been complaining.

It’s sad that Kaduna and Port Harcourt airports are still using make-shift arrival and departure halls. Port Harcourt airport particular is critical as the third busiest with huge foreign passengers leaving a horrible impression on Nigeria from other nationals.

Stakeholders and the airports users have consistently called on the federal government to step up efforts towards completing work on the terminals, particular, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Abuja, even before the new international terminals.

The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, recently agreed the stalled projects have obviously created some discomfort to the travelling public and other airport users.

Nonetheless, he assured the public that the situation was under control as FAAN was doing everything possible to proffer solution to the challenges faced by all airport users, within the shortest time possible.

Now that the budget is passed, will these terminals be completed or would they continue to linger on to the sustained discomfort of passengers? We wait in baited breath for time to tell

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