April 16, 2024

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Unions demand status of $500m Chinese loan in the airport concession program

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Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Reconstructed Runway, Abuja

The three aviation unions have appealed to House of Representatives Committee on Aviation to help, among other numerous issues, determine the status of the $500million Chinese Exim bank loan taken to remodel the four international airports now slated for concession.

Also, the leadership of the unions namely, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, ANAP, were assured that whatever their fears were, would be given critical consideration with the view to achieving fairness for all concerned.

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation led by Honourable Nnolim Nnaji, at a meeting with the representatives of the unions at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja on Tuesday, re-assured the workers that the concerns they hold against the concession would be critically examined and ensured that Nigerians are not in any way shortchanged.

The affected airports are the Murtala Mohammed International Airport,(MMIA) Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, Aminu Kano International Airport, (AMKIA) Kano, and Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt.

According to the spokesman of the unions, Comrade Ocheme Aba, the Ministry said that it was putting the airports for concession in order to bring them to global standards since the Federal Government didn’t have the funds to do so.

Comrade Aba also stated that the Ministry gave a second reason for the concession as the lack of adequate manpower within the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) to manage the airports to the desired standards.

The unions described the whole exercise as lacking in sincerity and transparency stressing that even though the Ministry asked them to nominate members into the project committee, their nominees were never carried along.

Citing the unending litigations that have be-devilled the only terminal presently on concession, MMA2, Lagos, Comrade Aba pointed out that if the Ministry goes ahead to concession the airports the way it is going about the program there would be severe consequences.

He also cited undervaluation of the existing assets and the contravention of the existing Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) Act as the aspects the unions expect the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation to examine.

Comrade Aba maintained that there is no provision in FAAN’s Act that grants the Ministry the powers to transfer the responsibility of managing any airport to any other entity adding that,”what we have found out in the said concession arrangement is that the authority has no input in the matter rather it is the Ministry that is solely driving the whole process”.

The unions also stated that they were equally concerned that over $500m Chinese EXIM Bank loan used to remodel the four airports’ terminals was not being factored into the concession arrangements.

The House Committee Chairman, Honourable Nnolim Nnaji while urging the unions to articulate their views in writing and submit same to the committee, reassured them that as representatives of the people, the committee will protect the interest of the generality of Nigerians.

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