Reps Express Mixed Feelings Over Progress In Aviation Sector | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Reps Express Mixed Feelings Over Progress In Aviation Sector

Posted: Jun 23, 2016 at 6:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


Ahmed Musa

Abuja -The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation on Wednesday had mixed reactions over what it termed lack of cohesive standardisation plan that would leap-frog the nation’s aviation industry beyond the 20th century traits that have been phased out in most developing countries of the world.

The committee also expressed dissatisfaction over lack of urgency and diligence in the implementation of capital budgets by agencies under the Ministry of Aviation with a view to improving on existing facilities that enable the improvement of safety standards at the nation’s airports.

These views were expressed during an oversight visit to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja where different agencies under the ministry are located.

Hon. Nkieruka Onyejeocha (PDP, Abia),  Chairman of the committee, on kick-starting the inspection tour of facilities at the airport by lawmakers stated that as far as the committee is concerned, aviation is all about safety which is why it takes the issue of safety standard at the airport very seriously.

Addressing some heads of parastatals at the airport, Onyejeocha said: “We want to see the number of contracts you have awarded and your award letters to know what projects you are embarking on based on the budget approved for you, because for me, Aviation is about safety”.

“We want to know what are the safety net you have put in place for the projects, the level of work done and the quality of same. If we are satisfied, we will give you pass mark because if you utilise them well, you will get more money in the future, but if not, you won’t expect anything going forward,” she said.

Responding to the charge, Engineer Dunoma Saleh, Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, spoke about series of projects currently ongoing at different level of completion.

He said the emergency operation centre project which was the first point of call by the committee was recently taken over by the agency as it had been under the control of the Air force for years, adding that it was later relinquished and now it has been upgraded for use by the airport.

He added that the project is purely about safety mechanism put in place at the airport as part of requirements by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which they have to fulfilled.

The Managing Director further explained that the centre is to serve as an emergency rescue operation centre which comes handy if there is any emergency with an air craft such as over shooting the runway, crash landing as well as  aborted take-off, adding that passengers are to be brought to the centre for assessment and medical aide before onward transfer to hospitals.

Inspecting the main runway, lawmakers discovered serious potholes, which they said, could burst aircraft tires, hinder smooth landing and take-off if not taken care of.

The committee later inspected the runway, data processing facilities and Air Traffic Control of Nigeria (TRACON) at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) where Engr. Emmanuel Anasi , the acting Director General, expressed certain challenges facing the agency in its bid to ensure  the safety of the nation’s airspace.

He said the agency grapples with the challenge of equipment maintenance whose expertise maybe available but ineffective due to lack of capacity to source spare parts.

According to him, the maintenance contract signed with the manufacturers of the equipment needs to be renewed since they cannot manufacture spare parts for the equipment.

He said if orders are placed for provision of parts, it takes about 52 weeks (one year) to get response, but if they (manufacturers) are directly involved in the maintenance, they have a set time frame for doing it with any prompting.

At this point ,Betty Apiafi, a member of the Committee from Rivers urged the agency to insist on getting the operating manual for the equipment having paid for software and operating licence, adding that it would help them in getting updated software and manual without asking the manufacturers to do the update and maintenance.

Other facilities inspected include the airport fire stations where Mr. Abdullaziz Ibrahim, the head of the command, told the committee that the station is  fully equipped with state of the art firefighting equipment with the capacity to do a jet throw of about 70 meters of water and can respond to emergence within three  minutes of distress call within the airport.

The committee also inspected the new airport terminal under construction by a Chinese civil engineering firm where they expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done so far whilst querying the safety measures put in place by the company for the protection of workers from occupational hazards.

The lawmakers also visited the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) as well as the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET) where they also inspected facilities and expressed satisfaction with the progress they have made.