Govt to conclude concessioning of airports by March, says minister

But the minister assured that Nigerians are ‘going to see us in the first quarter fully concessioning out Nigerian airports, so that very soon, we will begin to talk about the state-of-art infrastructure.

According to him, “infrastructures that we have put in place for air safety, like Doppler Weather Radar and TRACON will be completed in January 2010. We are going to see a lot of activities, educating Nigerians to fight for their rights. We have the consumer protection unit that Nigerians seemed not to know about or they know but they don’t really bother and therefore get cheated or treated poorly by the airlines.”

The minister stated that if concessioning process is being pursued “without short cut, and we do what is right, we will get it right. The Federal Government has examined all other options. When you look at many economies outside Nigeria, concessioning is something that has been given top priority.”

He disclosed that “seven strong groups are already talking to us about the Lagos Airport and we’ve told them go and wait, we are doing our studies. When we finish our studies we will advertise and at that time they can come in.

“We are going to learn from what is happening in other countries. We are going to bundle the Nigerian airports into four groups. We are going to bundle Lagos with Ibadan, Benin, Ilorin and Akure.

“If you are the concessionaire that eventually succeeds in getting the Lagos airport, you must also manage those four airports to international safety standard. We are not saying you should build gigantic structure but you should ensure that you provide at least adequate facilities to make it safe,” he said.

He noted that “the idea of saying that the aviation ministry wants to concession profitable airports and leave the other ones to die is not possible. If I take Abuja, I am going to bundle Abuja with Kaduna, Minna, and Makurdi- about six or seven airports. If I take Kano, I am going to bundle it with Katsina and some other airports. If I take Port Harcourt, I am going to bundle it with Calabar, Enugu, and Owerri, except in a situation where the state government, let’s take Imo State government, approached us and say they want to take Imo State airport.

“They built the airport with their own money, they gave it to the Federal Government and now they are asking us that we should give them the airport before concessioning. In a situation where the state government comes forward like that, we will give them consideration.

“However, we are going to set for them an uncompromisable international safety standard that must be meant at all time and the level of resources that they need to be investing at the airport for us to leave it with them. Any time they break that law we are going to revoke it. For us we are going to bundle all but we will also consider some states that we believe have the resources,’ he added.

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