By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
House of Representatives yesterday urged the federal government to reopen the international wings of Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt airport shutdown down at the peak of the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemics.
The House also urged the Presidential Taskforce on COVID–19 to urgently direct the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN to place COVID–19 preventive protocols ahead of the formal re-opening of the airports.
The call was a sequel to a motion by the majority leader of the House, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, the deputy minority leader, Toby Okechukwu and 34 others at Wednesday plenary.
Moving the motion, Doguwa recalled that on 19 March 2020, “among the urgent drastic responses to COVID–19 Pandemic was the closure of three out of the five International Airports in Nigeria namely: Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa”.
He expressed concerned that “Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano has remained closed despite credence to the impact and importance of the Airport to Nigerians, foreigners and the economy as it serves 15 passenger airlines, which include Kabo Airline, Air peace, Aero Contractors, Max Air, etc. being local airlines and Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, etc as International Airlines”.
According to him, “Airport is the hub of Muslim Pilgrimages in Northern Nigeria, alongside serving other exigencies like emergency medical evacuations and between 2010 and 2015, had a yearly average of 391,637 passengers flying the route for either business or pleasure”.
Doguwa said that the losses of jobs on account of the continued closure of the Airport as well as jeopardizing investments in the Information and Communications Technology, facilities and meteorological equipment which the government may not be able to repair immediately, and so susceptible to malfunctioning, contrary to the expectations in an industry that runs on the precision of judgement on anchored working equipment and facilities.
The lawmaker added that the other two Airports that were closed alongside the Airport have resumed operations, hence the continued closure of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport has brought untold hardship in many dimensions from economic to social loss of revenues generated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from the Airlines, other persons whose livelihoods are intrinsically linked to the operations of the Airport such as car hire operators and retailers of different products.
Adopting the motion, the House mandated its Committee on Aviation to interface with the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika to without further delay, agree on a timeline to reopen the airport.