No new airport projects’ll be built, says minister

In Nigeria
Jun 23rd, 2014

The Supervising Minister for Aviation, Dr Samuel Ortom, said yesterday the ministry will not begin a new project until those in progress are completed.

Ortom spoke in Lagos during a tour/inspection of the airport remodelling at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja.

He said none of the projects would be abandoned because most of the projects had been completed.

This comes as Ortom denied collecting N25 million each from three aviation agencies for his alleged governorship ambition in Benue State.

The minister said as a grassroots politician, if he indicated interest in the governorship race, his supporters would fund his ambition.

He urged Nigerians to dismiss insinuations that he was putting aviation agencies under pressure for cash requests.

Ortom explained that despite the huge debts – running over N174 billion – the Federal Government would continue with uncompleted airport projects.

The minister said the new five international airport terminals under construction with $500 million loan from Chinese Exim Bank and $100 million Federal Government counterpart funding, would be completed soon.

He urged the contractors to expedite action on the construction of the new terminals.

Ortom explained that some projects were recently suspended because of lack of fund.

The minister added that work had resumed on them when the Federal Government signed the 2014 budget into law.

He said: “We have to prioritise our work here. We have being operating through internally generated revenue (IGR) and we will continue to operate with it. We have done a lot.

“During this inspection, we identified some works we have to tidy up. We intend not to go on any new project until we tidy up these ones.”

Ortom said the ministry would also build new cargo terminals to enhance agricultural export.

According to him, the ministry will address human capacity and upgrading and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) will be directed to reabsorb some workers that are due for retirement.

He said: “We will take due process to temporarily reabsorb some FAAN fire service retirees across the country to occupy some posts. In aviation, we take issue of safety and security as priority.”

FAAN’s Managing Director Saleh Dunoma said the major challenge the authority was facing bordered on inadequate fire fighting personnel.

He said FAAN had 600 fire service workers across the country, less than the 160 approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Dunoma said new air-conditioners would soon be installed at the international terminal for passengers’ comfort.

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