Efforts by the Federal Government to deliver a roadmap for the air transport sector has drawn flak from unions, safety advocacy organisations and other interest groups seven years after it was conceived. Last minute rush by the Ministry of Aviation to actualise some components of the initiative – National Carrier, Aerotropolis and Concession of four international airport terminals – is creating unease among stakeholders. KELVIN OSA OKUNBOR reports.
Discontent is growing in the aviation sector over failure by the Federal Government to implement the roadmap it conceived for the industry over seven years ago.
The cause of the anger among leading industry groups, including unions, safety advocacy organisations and other industry groups is the abandonment of the blueprint designed to correct infrastructural gaps and other challenges erecting a roadblock to the growth of the industry.
Put together seven years ago, at the outset of the Muhammadu Buhari-led regime, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, enunciated the Aviation Road Map to consist six flagship projects – the establishment of a national carrier, an aircraft maintenance, repair & overhaul facility, an aircraft leasing company, agro-allied airports, aerotropolis, and concession of the four major international airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
Many years down the line, industry analysts say the administration has been long in talk and short in action in driving the projects to reality.
But, Sirika said the roadmap was on track as some of its components are 90 per cent completed.
He said before the end of May 2023, when President Buhari would leave office, majority of the roadmap components would have been concluded.
Sirika said by April 2023, an estimated 72,300 jobs would be created.
But, industry experts hold different views on the performance of the industry roadmap.
In an interview, an industry analyst, who pleaded anonymity, said for inexplicable reasons none of the projects have been delivered.
He said it was, therefore, not surprising that Sirika was in a frenzy to deliver the projects, being that the administration was at its twilight.
The expert observed that the seeming rush to deliver the components of the roadmap at all cost had expectedly occasioned suspicion and a plethora of missteps which if not corrected would spell doom for the industry and could prove costly to amend in future.
The expert said though the projects are vital for the good health of the industry, it is not the exclusive initiative of the current administration.
He said: “The current government does not own the credit for conceptualising these projects. The Aviation Road Map has been a recurrent theme in the Aviation Ministry for as long as one can call to mind.”
To drive home the disapproval of aviation unions on the failure of the Federal Government to deliver the projects, General Secretary of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) Comrade Ocheme Aba said industry watchers were getting worried over the development.
He said: “But, we have to seriously worry about the manner of delivery. More crucially, we are concerned about whether what is being delivered is actually what Nigerians crave. That is the crux of the matter.
“However, our hearts are now greatly troubled to be witnesses to the ongoing bastardisation of the lofty objectives of the Aviation Road Map. But, activities around the implementation of the road map tend to suggest that a ploy is afoot to deny Nigeria of the benefits of its labour and natural endowments, or to divert such to private ends. Nothing evidences this more than the fact that key decisions and actions around the projects are taken outside the statutory organs.”