Aviation-AirportsSenate Approves Rehabilitation Of Eight Airstrips In Nigeria


ABUJA  — The chairman of, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi says the senate has approved the rehabilitation of eight airstrips across the country.

 The airstrips include: Uli-Okija (Anambra) Bida (Niger), Zuru (Kebbi), Zaria (Kaduna), Kotangora (Niger), Ajaokuta, (Kogi) Irrhua (Edo) and Mubi (Adamawa).

 Adeyemi disclosed this, on Friday, while presenting his panel report on the 2022 budget before the Appropriations Committee, said the rehabilitation of the airstrips has become imperative to curb excessive spending and enable the people to move around the country, especially the hinterland.

“Most airports in Nigeria, aside from those in Lagos, Abuja, and a few others, were elephant projects and could not boost 100,000 passengers in a year.

“State governments should stop wasting billions on building airports but consider a functional airstrip, which only requires N1bn or N2bn to construct.

“We must not have, or plan to have a full-fledged airport in many cities of Nigeria but we could have airstrips that will enable people to move around the country.

“The Covid-19 has made it imperative to start thinking of accelerating the economic development of the country. That is why the airstrips must be rehabilitated. We only need N1bn or N2bn to construct a functional airstrip.

“Whether an airport has a terminal of N10bn or N20bn does not matter. What matters is that it must have a good landing facility. If we have a good runway for an airstrip, it may not be able to accommodate a Boeing series but it could accommodate a shuttle flight of 50 passengers, which is okay.

“We don’t need a Boeing series that would be looking for 100 passengers to take off. If we have a 50-seater aircraft, it could land and pick 30 passengers at no loss. But if you are waiting for a Boeing series before you construct an airport, you are not helping the Nigerian nation.

“We should not be looking at aviation from the level of America. We have to graduate and the way to do it is to have an airstrip in place.”

But, the vice-chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Stella Oduah, said Nigeria could never have enough airports to serve its population of over 200 million people, and maintained that any state that finds it viable as a business model should be encouraged to build an airport.

“Private sector involvement in aviation is the right way to go and the global best practice,” she said.

Hassan Umar Shallpella (Regional Correspondent)

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