FG approves N3b for Port Harcourt Airport rehabilitation
The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved about N3 billion for the completion of the rehabilitation work on terminal building phase 11 and international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, stated this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sirika said that N1.6 billion would be expended on rehabilitation of the international wing of the airport while completion of work on the terminal building phase 11 of the airport would cost N1.4 billion.
According to him, the council approved the project as it is captured in the 2016 and 2017 budget.
Sirika said: “In additional to the approval given for the eight new private universities, the revised total estimate cost of finishing Port Harcourt airport both domestic and international wing, so, Federal Executive Council approved the completion with the funding, as it is captured within the 2016 and 2017 budget.
“So, very soon we will complete that very important airport, especially the arrival, Port Harcourt airport has been tagged the worst airport in the world.
“But, by the grace of God and the wisdom of the council, it has been approved and will be completed.
“The upgrade and the rehabilitation of the terminal building, international wing of the Port Harcourt from N777, 726,669. 30 to N1,684,520,310.58.
“Second one, is the refurbishment of Port Harcourt airport terminal building phase II domestic wing from N746,830,782.12 to N1,411,662,855.67.”
Sirika stated that government had intensified efforts towards addressing the challenges of security and safety across the nation’s airports.
The Minister revealed that his ministry would be organising a stakeholders’ forum where issues concerning the aviation industry would be deliberated upon with a view to finding solutions facing the sector.
He said: “By the end of November we are going to have stakeholders meeting and some of these things will be shown there.’’
He stated that the parking space at the Port Harcourt and Abuja airports were being expanded to accommodate more vehicles.
Sirika further said: “The issue of parking space at the airport, this is part of the plan of the Abuja airport; you must have noticed some portion have been cleared.
“By the time it is completed, we would have a proper parking space which you will go and park for a fee.
“Once the airport is concessioned, all these will take shape and form that you will love to see.
“Just be patient in the next 24 to 36 months most of these things will be in place.’’
The Minister frowned at the activities of some air carriers “like Egypt Air, British Airways, Turkish Air who fly in here with undesirable aircraft while they put on other routes better aircraft despite the fact that the Nigerian routes pay them more’’.
He, however, said that his ministry had been talking to them to ensure that they change their fleets.
He said: “As regarding carriers like British Airways, Egypt Air, Turkish Air, who are coming in here with undesirable aircraft while they put on other routes better aircraft despite the fact that the Nigerian routes pay them more, Nigerian routes. I have not ignored it.
“We have been talking to them seriously. We are ensuring that they change their fleets. However, some of them are constrained because of the infrastructure we have in place.
“For example Emirate, Emirate will love to bring the kind of aircraft they fly around the world but the apron in Abuja is not supporting that service.
“That is why the aircraft they take to Lagos is different from the one they take to Abuja. That inadequacy is also being addressed and once that is done we will have benefiting aircraft coming.”
Sirika stated that the government was also addressing some of the challenges being faced by some foreign carriers who were threatening to close their offices in Nigeria.
According to the Minister, government is now meeting 100 per cent of foreign exchange requirement of local airlines.
Sirika explained: “You know that aviation is dollar denominated, you buy aircraft in dollar, you service in dollar, you train your crew in dollar you do everything in dollar. And we simply do not have the dollar to pay these airlines.
“But now as we are talking, government through the Central Bank of Nigeria has made available 300 million dollars out of the 600 million dollars of the airlines funds stock in Nigeria to pay the airlines to demonstrate its commitment to the sector.
“And with devaluation, 600 million dollars could be 1 billion dollars. Gradually, we will clear everything and once that happen they are not going to go anywhere.”
On the national carrier, the Minister disclosed that government would soon appoint transaction adviser for the carrier.
He said: “But the most important incentive is that between now and Wednesday, we will appoint transaction adviser for the national carrier.
“Once that is in place, Nigerians will have options, there will be competition, good aircraft and this will bring the price down.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke on the inability of the Senate to approve the $29.9 billion loans for infrastructure development in the country, said the executive arm would continue to engage the National Assembly to enable them see reason for the loans.
Mohammed said: “Of course, it is not unusual for the executive and the legislative to have disagreement. They want more information and we will give them and we will continue to engage them.”