By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN â€” MINISTER of Aviation, Mr Babatun-de Omotoba, weekend, raised alarm over the decaying state of facilities at Benin Airport.
He observed that there were major cracks on the run way and that some areas were in the process of collapsing which, according to him, constitute a threat to safe flight operations.
Omotoba, who spoke to newsmen while inspecting facilities at the airport, observed that when traffic started picking up in 2007 at the airport, â€œsuddenly we found out that the terminal building that was built for two hundred people is now taking about one thousand people.
â€œSo the terminal building is inadequate, the car park is inadequate and then we have only one fire vehicle working out of the two and they are very old, about thirty years old.
â€œWe have noticed that Benin airport is gradually becoming one of the busiest in the country. The number of traffic is gradually increasing to about fifteen flights per day which is huge.
â€œWe must pay very close attention to what is happening in Benin. So I have to take a close look atÂ the place. We have a little problem from what we have seen,â€ he added.
â€œNumber one is that we have a very poor perimeter fence.Â Â For us, we are taking stock of all these and basically, this will help us put together what we will do in the Benin airport in 2010.
â€œOf course, I am going to meet with the governor of Edo State to discuss this, to see how we can solve some of these problems we have noted, to make sure that we provide the best facilities to the traveling public.â€
The minister said the focus of the federal government was on the four major airports in Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Abuja, stressing that â€œwhat we intend to do is to make these airports the best in Africa. We have now embarked on a programme of concession for these four major airports.
â€œAlready we have an MOU on Abuja airport. And for Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano, we have a consultant.Â Â They submitted their report to me last week and basically what we want to do is to pick these major airports and concession themÂ and also charge concessionaires to manage them.
â€œFor us, we are not going to be spending money on airports that are not major airports. However, safety critical items are just our focus and that is just what I have come to do.
â€œNow, the run way with the alligator cracks is safety critical. Now for a terminal building that is supposed to be taking only 200 hundred people now taking one thousand people, those kinds of things I will like to talk to the governor to assist me.â€