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Reps rule out public hearing on handover of GAT

By Kenneth Ehigiator
The House of Representatives is not favourably disposed to organising a public hearing on government’s handover of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) to Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited.

This was the fallout of the meeting held by Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Mr. Bethel Amadi, with leaders of the two aviation unions —National Union of Air Traffic Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) — opposed to the handover of the terminal.

A source at the meeting said the House was rather disposed to having what the committee chairman called “secret meeting” with all the parties to the crisis.

Amadi was said to have met with the union leaders at NUATE secretariat a few days ago and ruled out the possibility of a public hearing on the issue as canvassed by some stakeholders in the industry.

According to the sources, the committee favours secret hearing because of the politicisation of public hearings in the country.

The source quoted Amadi as saying he was not aware of the reasons the unions wanted to embark on a nationwide strike and was, therefore, at the union secretariat on a fact-finding visit.

According to the source, the unions are not expecting anything positive from the House of Reps’ intervention because of the earlier position of the Senate which withdrew its interest on the matter on the condition that it didn’t want to cry more than the bereaved in the problems between Bi-Courtney and Arik Air over GAT.

“We know they are working together with the Senate.  Based on the Senate’s earlier position on the matter, we cannot rely on the House to do anything different.  We do not, however, need anybody’s help to stop government from handing over the GAT,” said the source.

Vanguard gathered that leaders of the unions are still awaiting the invitation of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua for continuation of the last week’s meeting between the unions and Presidency officials, which was called off pending the return of the president from his official visit to Saudi Arabia.

It was, however, resolved at the meeting that all parties to the crisis should stay action and maintain the statusquo preceding the handover of the terminal two weeks ago.

Consequently, Bi-Courtney was asked to hold back on take over of the GAT, while NUATE and ATSSSAN were equally directed to stay action on the proposed nationwide strike by aviation workers to protest the handover.

One of the union leaders, who preferred anonymity, yesterday dismissed Bi-Courtney’s plans to reconstruct GAT, warning that the unions would activate their strike plans should the company breach the stay action directive.

Bi-Courtney had last weekend issued a statement that it would reconstruct the old terminal and put in place portakabins for continued airline operations at the terminal while the reconstruction last.


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