Establishment of national carrier not negotiable, says Sirika
He highlighted other areas of focus to include construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, introduction of Aviation Development Fund for remodeling of the airports across the country and sustaining existing structures.
Sirika spoke in his office during formal handing over to him by the outgoing Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Hajiya Binta Bello. He pledged to ensure that every fund meant for projects in the aviation sector would be released judiciously and appropriately used to bring the desired change to the sector.
Emphasizing the need for the training and re-training of staff in the sector, Sirika said the industry should comprise of professionals whose proficiency should be enhanced so as cover possible errors.
The outgoing Permanent Secretary said the ministry, during her six months sojourn, delivered effectively on the core mandate of ensuring safety, security and comfort of air travelers.
Bello listed some of the challenges in the aviation sector as dwindling Federal Government appropriation for capital projects, repayment of DMO/Chinese EXIM Bank loans, introduction of a national carrier, high rate of equipment/instruments obsolesce and degradation, high third party indebtedness, and slow pace of infrastructural development.
She said to improve service delivery in the sector and enhance its contribution to the nation’s GDP, their is need to review enabling laws of the agencies, establish a national carrier, construct second Abuja runway, complete on-going airport remodelling projects and air navigation infrastructure.
Bello also suggested introduction of Aviation Development Fund, settlement of debts to agencies and inclusion of aviation sector in priority programme of government in the 2016 budget.
On the second runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, the outgoing permanent secretary said there was no subsisting contract for the project, and that only the design consultancy has been advertised.
Bello assured the minister she was leaving behind a crop of competent and highly committed civil servants and professionals to work with. She urged the staff to extend their cooperation and support to the minister as he discharges his duty and responsibilities towards the growth of the sector and the nation.
The Permanent Secretary of Transportation Ministry, Sabiu Zakari, while welcoming Sirika, pledged support and loyalty of the staff to the minister.