By Chinedu Eze
The Federal Government at the weekend announced that it would begin the inauguration of some of the airports in the country where transformation work has been completed from the end of May.
Few months ago government embarked on the remodelling and restructuring of 11 airports in the country by expanding and modernising the facilities in these airports in other to meet the demands of increasing passenger movement and eliminate obsolete facilities that hampered facilitation.
Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, made this known, during the inspection tour of Kano, Abuja and Benin airports, saying the objective of government was to improve the airports so that they would meet acceptable standards and also boost air travel in the country.
“We have done more than 85 per cent of the work in some airports. From the end of this month we are going to start the unveiling and commissioning of the projects. Construction is a long process because the foundation has to be right. We have gone a very long way,” she stated.
She explained that what government is doing is more than polishing and renovation, noting that in some airports it involved reconstruction, including adding new structures as it is in the case of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) in Lagos, where a new terminal is being built to replace the aged contraption at the old domestic terminal.
“What we are doing goes beyond remodelling; we are doing reconstructing of the airports. We are doubling the sizes of those airports; we are changing all the facilities. So you can’t call that remodelling.
“Reconstruction is what we are doing to ensure passengers’ safety, to ensure that they get value for their money and most importantly we want airports that all Nigerians will be proud to have. That is what this administration is all about, a total transformation of the aviation sector,” she stressed.
Apparently reacting to the notion that it is a common practice in the country to commission poorly executed projects hurriedly, the Minister said quality had not been compromised in the projects being executed.
“We have our quality control group working with them (contractors) at all times; we want to make sure we don’t play with customer safety which is why we are doing total restructuring and remodelling,” she said.
However, Oduah stated that one of the challenges facing her was coming from some stakeholders in the aviation industry whom she said had accused her of sidelining them in the airports transformation programme.
She said that those who were benefitting from the degradation of the industry are mostly kicking against any form of progress that the government aims to achieve.
“I am always perplexed when I hear some stakeholders saying they have been excluded. I don’t know who is a stakeholder and who is not a stakeholder. Every Nigerian is a stakeholder. I am a stakeholder; you are a stakeholder.
“Those that have benefited from the destruction and degradation of this sector have been the major problems that we have encountered because I don’t know why anybody will be against progress. We have identified the anomaly; we want to rectify that anomaly and make things better for us. Why should anybody be against that? This administration is a transformation administration and we are going to transform from bad to good,” she said.