The recent approval of N10 billion for the automation of five major airports in Nigeria has generated concerns among industry operators who felt it was unnecessary in the face of a planned concession of the facilities.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on March 30 approved the contract for provision of Airport Management Solutions for Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu International Airports which are also slated for concession.
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The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had defended the proposed concessioning which he noted was not tantamount to sale of the Airports.
On the automation, Sirika had also said the contract awarded to Arlington Security Nigeria Limited with a 12 months delivery period would be useful.
“This allows flexible sharing of resources for check-in and boarding, such as servers, work stations, associated peripherals between airlines and handling agencies present at the airport,” he said.
However, while the concession process delayed, the federal government approved N10bn for the airports’ automation.
Speaking on this, the Assistant Secretary of Aviation Roundtable, Mr Olumide Ohunayo said while there is nothing wrong in that, it was better if there was no concession plan.
“So, you now begin to wonder why the government is spending money for someone else to come in and take such terminals.
“Also, at what point did the government decide on this? We never saw any advert, bidding for it and suddenly, a price came out from nowhere and it was approved. The same FEC that said they were stopping the national carrier has gone ahead to approve over N20 billion for the same project from palliatives.”
According to him, with the approval, it appears the concession plan has been jettisoned.
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Chief Executive Officer of Westlink Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia said infrastructural upgrade should be the condition to be given to any concessionaire.
“I have always believed in concessioning government interests to private experts and able entrepreneurs if it will create more jobs than present upgrade facilities to better standard than present,” he said.
President of Aviation Roundtable, Dr Gbenga Olowo said: “One would have expected ICRC to concession the airports after resolving the many burning issues already identified by industry experts, workers’ unions and the general public and utilize these funds on more pressing issues in the sector,” he added.
Spokesman in the Ministry of Aviation, Mr James Odaudu, did not respond to our correspondent’s enquiry on the preference for automation while the ministry spearheads the airports’ concession process.
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