By Friday Nwosu
The lack of provision of adequate airport infrastructure by successive government in the country which could make the airport more friendly and comfortable to air travellers has impeded the growth of the aviation sector in Nigeria, The Chief Executive Officer, Ropeways Transport Ltd. Lagos Nigeria, Capt. Dapo Olumide, the former Managing Director of Virgin Nigeria and former deputy managing director, Aero Contractors, stated this at the first anniversary colloquium of Nigeria Travel Mart.Com (NTM), held in Lagos on Tuesday.
He said the only way the country’s aviation can move forward was if adequate measures are taking to address the infrastructural challenge bedevilling the sector, adding that the Nigeria needs to set a new bench mark of excellence for herself. Speaking on the topic, Overview of Nigeria’s aviation industry in the last 50 years with the theme: ‘Leapfrogging Nigeria Aviation’ Capt. Dapo stated that the nation’s aviation industry is still crawling because the country is yet to learn from its past mistakes. He lamented that the country is yet to fix an avio-bridge at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, 30 years after it got spoiled saying that Nigeria is yet to learn from its history.
“The only way we can move forward is with infrastructure. We have to have infrastructure otherwise you are going nowhere and we have to set a new bench mark for where we Want to be.” “The reason I deliberately gave you a presentation on the history of aviation in Nigeria is because you cannot, it is not possible for you to determine your future unless you know where you are coming from. “The reason why Kano airport was built to accommodate the number of people it was built to accommodate at that time 1936, what did we do between 1936 and today, we tiled the floor, we launch a new terminal that can accommodate a 100 people and even back in the 1960s, when the DC10 was coming here, the DC 10 has 136 seats, so already Kano airport was too small in 1936, but it was adequate at that time, but in the 60s it was too small. What did we do between the 60s and today? Nothing. “You can’t go anywhere without infrastructure. It doesn’t matter what grand plan you have for the future and how you intend to get there, you can bring in an Airbus A380 into Lagos, it can land on the international runway in Lagos, it can also land in Abuja that is not a problem. But how do we disembark 500 passengers? How did they collect their luggage in a reasonable time frame?”
“In my presentation I told you that West Africa Airways Corporation, one of their downfalls was the fact that flights were delayed because of a climate weather-harmattan. Harmattan is a climate weather, it is not tornado or hurricane, it’s just reduce visibility because of dust. In the rest of the world they have what is called category 3 approaches, you can land in zero, zero visibility, in other words you can’t see a person until you get closer but you can land an aeroplane. And you are delaying flight because of harmattan, in 2015, the same problem that killed West African Airways Corporation in 1958, we haven’t solved that problem. So what lesson have we learnt? “We talk about airport fencing here, it goes into the newspaper. Why is it news worthy? If you can’t fence your airport, then you have other problem. When you are setting to land in the developed world and you are looking from your window, you can tell you are close to the airport because brightly lit, all the apron light, the taxiway light everything is there, when you are setting to land in Lagos, you look for the darkest place and that is the airport because the only lightening is on the runway. The apron has no lightening. Look at the avio bridges at Lagos, MMIA. The avio bridges stopped functioning in 1985, and we haven’t fixed them till today.”
We keep saying we want to go forward, but we haven’t solved the problems of today, we need to know where we are today. The problem is that we have set mediocrity to be the new benchmark of excellence.” In his address, the convener of the event and publisher cum CEO, Mr. Simon Tumba, stated the country’s population can be an added advantage if well motivated and harnessed. He said the Nigeria’s population can be a catalyst for country’s aviation. “Ranking is a function of economic power, growth and population. Our population can be a catalyst for our Aviation if well motivated and harnessed. Today Nigeria is the world’s 7th largest in population. Guess what in 2050, Nigeria will be the 3 largest populated nation on earth. It’s a challenge and opportunity. Amongst the projected top ten in the data is Ethiopia with a figure Of 165 million in 2050. Surely we all in this hall know that Ethiopia is already pouncing and set for the dominance of Africa by then. What about Nigeria?”