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Senate decries desperation by some states to establish airports

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The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC-Kogi West), has described most of the airports established by State governments as white elephant projects.

Senator Adeyemi who stated this during the presentation of reports on the 2022 budgetary projections for the aviation sector before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, said functional airstrips are better operational in most of the states than airports of N20billion being established.

He said most of the airports built by the states lack the required facilities and passenger flow to be called airports.

“Aside from Lagos which has 65% of passengers traffic, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and most of the other state airports lack the required 500,000 to one million passenger traffic on yearly basis.

“In fact, many of them cannot even record 100,000 passengers annually not to talk of a minimum of 500,000 by international standards.

“Governors should stop embarking on white elephant projects called state airports with the attendant waste of resources that should be channelled into welfare and livelihood of their citizens.

“N20 billion being spent by some state governors on the construction of airports would have been better channelled into welfare-driven projects and programmes for people of the state.

“It takes one to two billion naira to construct a functional airstrip where small aircraft with 50-seaters can land,” he said.

He added that in many nations of the world that he has visited, whether an airport is having a terminal of N10bn or N20bn does not matter. What matters is that it must have a good landing facility which a functional airstrip can provide.

“We don’t need a Boeing series that would be looking for 100 passengers to take off before it move. If we have a 50-seater aircraft, it could land and pick 30 passengers at no loss. But if you are waiting for a Boeing series before you construct an airport, you are not helping the Nigerian nation.

“We should not be looking at aviation from the level of America. We have to graduate and the way to do it is to have an airstrip in place,” he said.

Senator Adeyemi therefore specifically informed the committee that eight of the airstrips built about 40 to 50 years ago have been proposed for rehabilitation in the 2022 fiscal year.

The eight airstrips according to him are Bida and Kotangora in Niger State, Mubi in Adamawa State, Zaria in Kaduna State, Uli-Okija in Anambra State, Ajaokuta in Kogi State, Irua in Edo State and Zuru in Kebbi State.

“We have therefore proposed Okija airstrip, Zuru, Zaria, Ajaokuta, Mubi, Kotangora, Bida and Urua airstrips for rehabilitation.

“The Uli-Okija airstrip, in particular, is good because it will open up the Nnewi Anambra axis and the entire South-East more when we have an aircraft that could take about 50 passengers to the hinterland.

“It is needed because it will serve the hinterland. It would enable them to move goods and passengers around the country easily.

“That is the basic thing to help guarantee the social and economic development of our nation,” he added.

 

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