Huge Debts Owed FAAN Worry Representatives
ABUJA, October 23, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives has express worry over the huge debts owed the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) by airlines operating in the country.
It has also urged the federal government to tackle head on problems militating against the smooth functioning of the aviation sector and as well make the country’s airspace safe for Nigerians and visitors.
Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Hon Nkiruka Onyejeocha (PDP, Abia) who gave the charge at the weekend during an interactive session with the Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Odua and heads of parastatals under the ministry also raised an alarm over the huge debt profile of airlines operating in the country to Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) said to be in billions of naira.
Onyejeocha said the essence of the interactive session was part of the committee’s concerted effort in upholding the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, saying, “A vibrant and viral aviation sector is a major gateway towards achieving the transformation agenda and the vision to make Nigeria one of the top 20 economies in year 2020.”
According to her, “without a vibrant aviation sector where the safety of airspace is certain, Nigeria will not have the needed foreign investments it desires and the tourism industry will virtually collapse.”
Reeling out problems that should be conquered in the Nigerian aviation industry, the lawmaker listed air safety, courtesy at the airports, cargo losses, power failure at the airports, proper equipments and total radar coverage, arbitrary increase in airfare, bureaucratic bottleneck affecting operations at the airports amongst other.
Hon Onyejeocha added that, “in the minds of Nigerians, the frequent air crashes that occurred in the last few years are still very fresh. Nigerians are delighted that these occurrences seem to have abated in the recent past. But in the last one year there was a helicopter crash, these incidents must not be allowed to embarrass the nation further.
“The aviation sector is a technological driven industry, Nigeria must not fall behind in its technological advancement in the sector. The total radar coverage must be effective and continuous, obsolete equipments must be repaired or replaced,” she maintained.
In her presentation to the committee, the minister agreed that the aviation sector in the country “is faced with numerous challenges which affect all the key industry players.”
The Minister however noted that “there is a need to explore Public Private Partnerships, to support the federal government to improve the state of airport facilities by engaging in modernization upgrades or construction of new facilities. The vision of this administration is to make air travel the preferred and safest means of transportation, create a self sustaining business model and drive socio-economic growth in Nigeria.”