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State airports owe NAMA N3bn

Some state aerodromes are owing the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) over N3bn. NAMA, the agency responsible for providing air traffic control and navigation services…

Some state aerodromes are owing the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) over N3bn.

NAMA, the agency responsible for providing air traffic control and navigation services to the airports, is putting pressure on the debtors, it was learnt.

This revelation is coming a week after the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) withdrew its security, rescue and fire-fighting services from Gombe and Kebbi airports over indebtedness of over N800m.

FAAN had issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to airlines flying to the airports about its intention to withdraw its services after giving the operators sufficient time to reconcile with the agency.

Daily Trust, however, learnt that services at the Gombe airport have been restored as airlines like Arik and Azman still operate at the airport.

Apart from the 25 airports being managed by FAAN, with less than 30 per cent of them regarded as viable, there are other aerodromes operated by states and private organisations. Among them are Gombe, Kebbi, Osubi Aerodrome (Delta), Bebi (Cross River), Bayelsa, Taraba, Jigawa, even as more states have proposed to build airports amid criticism from stakeholders who see the projects as not only capital-intensive, but a drain on the states’ resources.

It would be recalled that following the revenue drive by NAMA, it withdrew its services from some debtor-airports in September, 2018, which technically shut down the airports as no aircraft could land or take off without approval from the air traffic control; a service exclusively offered by NAMA.

However, since the services were restored, the debt profile has not shrunk, NAMA sources have said, as it is currently estimated that the agency is being owed over N3bn which is affecting its financial standing.

“We are being cautious not to adopt FAAN’s option this time around, but we are putting pressure on them to pay up,” a source said yesterday.

The Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, during an interactive session with aviation unions last week, decried the indebtedness of state aerodromes to the agency, saying effort was being intensified to prevail on defaulting state governments to pay.

Commenting on the development, an aviation analyst, Engr. Sheri Kyari, stressed that it was not sustainable for a state government to operate an airport.

“We have said this times without number, but they would not listen,” he said, noting that most state governments embarked on airport project to siphon money.

“It is not just about building an airport. You need to talk about the maintenance. How do you run the airport? The truth is that most state governors embark on airport projects because of how much they can make. They know that the bigger the project, the more money they would make,” he said.

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