The Federal Government has proposed to expend the sum of N5,000,075,000 on three projects in the Nigerian aviation industry next year.
This is according to the 2023 appropriation bill currently before the National Assembly for passage.
The projects include the proposed construction of a new civil terminal building and apron expansion at Katsina Airport, airport certifications, and consultancy fees for the controversial aerotropolis (airport city) scheme.
Airport certifications: A copy of the 2023 appropriation bill seen by Nairametrics indicates that the Federal Government proposed to spend N3 billion on safety and security-critical projects and airport certification nationwide. Some of these projects are currently ongoing.
However, the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) recommended practices specify that only international airports are to be certified by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
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In Nigeria, there are five international airports; Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omegwa and Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA), Enugu.
Airport certification is valid for three years.
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Lagos and Abuja airports were certified in September and October 2017, respectively and efforts to re-certify them have failed since 2020 due to the several open items the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are yet to close.
Also, none of the other three airports has been certified by the NCAA, despite numerous meetings with the agency’s inspectors and FAAN team.
The Director-General of NCAA. Capt. Musa Nuhu earlier disclosed that the regulatory body had begun the recertification of the Lagos and Abuja airports with an assurance that the two aerodromes would be recertified soon.
Nuhu said the technical inspections of the airports were done in 2021 to ascertain some identified gaps and that action plans were expected to be developed.
He also said inspectors of the regulatory agencies had begun a series of regular meetings with the official of FAAN to ensure those open items discovered were closed. But, nine months after the assurance, none of the two airports has been recertified due to the open items (gaps) in the system.
Katsina Airport expansion: Besides, the Federal Government proposed to spend the sum of N2 billion on the construction of a new apron expansion at the Katsina Airport. According to the proposal, the project was “ongoing.”
The government had in the 2022 budget proposed to spend N5.1 billion for the same project. With this latest budget, the government has now proposed the sum of N7.1 billion for the construction of a new apron expansion at the Katsina Airport in two years.
Interestingly, the passenger traffic figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) earlier in the year showed that Katsina Airport recorded the lowest passenger traffic for 2021 with just 30,313.
Meanwhile, the entire 28 airports in Nigeria recorded 15,225,627 travellers within the period, according to the NBS.
The Aerotropolis Project: Further review of the 2023 budget proposal also revealed that the government earmarked the sum of N75 million as a consultancy fee for the controversial aerotropolis project in Lagos, which industry unions have vowed to kick against. The ministry said the project was ongoing.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, had said that the offices of FAAN, NCAA and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) at the Lagos Airport would be demolished for such purpose.
But the industrial union and affected agencies’ workers have kicked against the planning, advising the minister to commence the aerotropolis project from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where he already secured 12,000 hectares of land for such purpose.