Government to lose N300m to airport closure, says association

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

For the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, the plan to close the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIN) for six weeks, to enable the Federal Government effect repair work on the runway, would be at great cost to its members.

The association, which is one of the critical stakeholders in the handling and transportation of cargo at the airport, said its members would loose over N300million in revenue to the six weeks closure.

Chairman of association, Abuja chapter, Abdul Abdulsalam told The Guardian that though the repair is inevitable, it is a big drain on the economy, especially as it affects revenue from licensed agents.

“We believe that the plan by the Federal Government to close the Abuja airport is step in the right direction based on aviation safety rules. We are in total support of the repair, as in the long run it will make the airport operate at optimum capacity.

“But in terms of economic loss, we have estimated that licensed customs agents will lose nothing less than N300million in revenue. This is because planes will not be landing within the period and no cargo will be discharged or transported. Our members will just be idle. Actually, we generate an average of N20million per week when flights are operational. So, that is the challenge our members are going to face,” he said.

Abdulsalam said the association, which carries out clearing and forwarding duties at the Abuja airport will be made redundant within the period, saying over 500 corporate organisations who are members have no alternative means of earning a living.

“This is what we do to earn a living and feed our families, extended family and so on. We also pay school fees for our children from this job. Our members are dedicated to this job and handle it with high sense of professionalism, because we are customs licensed. So, this is the only job we know. It’s really going to affect the welfare of our members. People need to feed their families. We don’t know how they are going to cope,” the chairman said.

He said his members are currently deliberating on possibilities of relocating to Kaduna, but expressed concern about the challenge of accommodation and office space, a development they never envisaged ab initio.

He explained that the association operates closely with airline companies and would move to Kaduna when airline operators start to move.He added 70 per cent of airline operators consulted on the development, said they have no immediate plans to shift their base to Kaduna State.

“If we don’t have cargo business to clear in Kaduna, why go there? Most of the airlines we spoke to, at least 70 percent of them said they have no plans of going anywhere yet. So, we go where they go. Again, we don’t have houses or offices in Kaduna. That is extra cost. Who is going to bear that?” he asked.

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