The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has stated that deficit in aviation infrastructure has been a major setback for the development of efficient air transport sector in Africa.
Sirika stated this at the opening of a two-day workshop on Aviation Infrastructure For Africa Gap Analysis organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), in Abuja.
He said that Africa had become one of the fastest growing air transport markets in the world due to an emerging industrial sector and increasing population.
According to him, these amongst many other reasons creates tremendous opportunity for progress as aviation already supports almost seven million jobs and 72.5 billion dollars in gross domestic product (GDP).
“However, in terms of infrastructure requirements to support future capacity, aviation in Africa and other regions face some serious constraints due to inadequate airport capacity, air traffic management technologies and dearth of aviation personnel.
“Africa aviation requires significant upgrade and expansion to meet the requirements of the projected growth but has to overcome insufficient access to financial resources for aviation development and modernisation.
“You would all agree with me that there is the need for Africa’s civil aviation infrastructure to be as efficient, effective and sustainable as its counterparts in terms of reliability and versatility of their operations,” he said.
President, ICAO Council, Bernard Aliu, said that Africa accounted for about four per cent of global air transport services and had the highest potential for growth out of all global regions.
Aliu, however, lamented that in spite of the continent’s large population, its potential had not yet translated into strong and better development in African states.
He disclosed that the ICAO air traffic forecast indicated that the current global traffic figures, which stood at 4.1 billion passengers transported on 38 million flights, were expected to double in the next 15 years.
According to him, passengers and traffic specifically in the African region are expected to grow approximately by 4.3 per cent and 3.8 per cent annually through 2025.
“We consider the potential of this growth and especially how much it should be operated through the African Union’s very important initiative toward the development of the single African air transport market,.
“However, it becomes apparent that the growth in traffic must be accompanied by commensurate investment and commitment to new and modernised airport and air navigation equipments.
“It is, therefore, urgent for Africa to address the aviation infrastructure gaps, given current awareness on how airport activities have become indispensable catalysts for socio economic growth of this continent,” he said.
Reports say that the workshop, a follow up on the ICAO World Aviation Forum (IWAF) held in November 2017 in Abuja has about 150 delegates from African countries as participants.
The workshop, according to ICAO boss is expected to set a basis to formulate quality aviation infrastructure programme and master plan for Africa, at state and regional levels with agreed scope, broad and specific objectives.
In line with the objective of the workshop, a preliminary survey on aviation infrastructure in Africa covering airports, air navigation services, and air operators with respect to fleet capacity will be conducted.
“State by State sample infrastructure gap analysis as relates to the present demand will be presented on the basis of the data obtained from the survey and other relevant information from the various stakeholders.”
COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff
At least 300 staff of Arik Air have been relieved of their appointments by the airline’s management.
This was announced in a statement by the airline on Friday.
It blamed the sacking on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The press statement was titled, “Arik Air management declares 300 staff redundant”.
The company explained that a redundancy package would be provided for the affected workers with the help of the aviation unions.
The statement read in part, “Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leadership of the impacted unions has been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
The airline added that over 50 per cent of its workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months.
In a separate statement also forwarded to our correspondent by its Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, the airline apologised to passengers whose travel plans were disrupted by the protest carried out by the National Union of Air Transport Employees on December 3, 2020.
The picketing disrupted operations in Lagos and prevented the airline from processing passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 1 and 2.
S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS
South-East leaders on Saturday, lauded the Federal Government on the matured and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
The leaders of the zone, which included Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders, gave the commendation in a communiqué issued after their meeting with a Presidential delegation in Enugu.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the President to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them,’’ the statement, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Dave Umehi, said.
It also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilant groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us.
“We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – NIGERIA; we are bigger and stronger,’’ it said.
It also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement thanked the Federal Government for the timely interventions in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum.
“However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The statement said that the states in the zone will provide money for the compensation for those affected by the EndSARS protest, help to rebuild police stations and their logistics; while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
“We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.
Minister Hails Meeting With S’East Leaders
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described as “extremely fruitful” the meeting which a presidential team had with leaders and stakeholders of the South-East.
“The meeting of the presidential delegation with South-East leaders was very useful,’’ Mohammed told journalists on Sunday in Enugu.
The delegation, led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, met for more than eight hours in Enugu with selected South-East leaders.
Mohammed said that it was quite instructive that all the groups which took part in the meeting believed in the unity and oneness of the country, pointing out that they clearly spelt out this in their presentations.
“We listened clearly and carefully to all the positions and demands and we are going back to report directly to President Buhari,’’ the minister said.
He noted that the Federal Government had been spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country, simultaneously and equitably.
“We want the South-East people to be confident that the Federal Government is spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country equitably and will never marginalise any zone in the ongoing development and infrastructure agenda.
“This is what I want to assure Nigerians living in the South-East,’’ Mohammed noted.
According to the minister, when the team gets back to Abuja it will see what can be done immediately concerning some of the positions and demands made by the South-East leaders.
The presidential delegation met with South-East governors, statesmen, elders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as market women and youth leaders.
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