By Wole Oyebade
The Federal Government, yesterday, said the quartet of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano airports will be concessioned by August.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said in Lagos that the last phase of the concession preparations would be done between this month and July.
In a related development, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has acquired two new automated mobile control towers, to serve as backups in both Lagos and Abuja airports.
The Federal Government has been itching to concession all the 22 federal airports since 2016, beginning with the big four in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, to enable them to function efficiently and profitably. Despite the government’s assurance that the workers would still be relevant in the new arrangement, the unions have been against concession.
The main concern of the workers, under the aegis of the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Pensioners (NUP), is what would be their fate when the airports fall into private hands.
Similarly, they faulted the rationale behind concessioning viable airports that are beneficiaries of the 2013 loan deal between Nigeria and China. The unions have requested for details of the $500 million credit for the four terminals, especially the additional plans to concession them.
Sirika, at the Airport Business Summit and Expo, yesterday, assured that there would be no job loss during concession, but an opportunity to engage more hands into the system.
He said there was no need to sell the people’s asset but to concession them in a way that it would be operated with a view to providing more revenue.
He said the proposal would be presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in February 2022 for approval.
He added that all the agreements on concession were contained in the outlined proposal, saying they were in the interest of the people.
Sirika explained that the proposal, which commenced in 2015, will be advertised this month for bidders to show interest after which qualified companies will be invited for profiling, adding that everything convening the process will close in August
He added that evaluated companies would be asked to present a proposal for engagement, even as he assured labour of dialogue to ensure that every issue concerning concession was addressed, adding that no single worker will be laid off.
He assured that all ongoing concessions would be allowed to finish their tenure before review.
On tackling the present traffic in-between the domestic and international airport, Sirika said the arrangement was on between the Lagos state government and ministry to construct light rail from the Ikeja terminal through the local airports to the international airport.