The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, wednesday disclosed that transportation which is the cardinal objective of the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP) of the current administration cannot be over-emphasised.
He noted that airport transport alone contributes about US$8.2 billion to the country’s gross domestic product annually.
He disclosed that the airports in 2016 handled 15.2 million passengers, conveyed over 195,230 metric tons of cargo and 7,373.0 metric tonnes of mails.
Sirika, while speaking at the 2017 15th edition of the National Council on Transportation (NCT) taking place in Sokoto State, said there was need for every sector to operate efficiently for the recovery of the nation’s economy.
“This has become urgent for us given the fallen price of oil which had been our main stay and the resultant decline in government revenue,” he said.
According to the minister, “Transportation is the wheels that roll the economic development of countries. The sector contributes to the economic sectors which include oil and gas, tourism, travel, agriculture, trade and commerce, manufacturing and other non-oil sectors.
“Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa with a population of over 180 million people. Presently, the country has 27 functional airports and several privately owned airstrips and helipads. The airports in 2016 handled 15.2 million passengers, transported over 195, 230 metric tonnes of cargo and 7,373.0 metric tonnes of mails.
“Also, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), air transport in Nigeria supports more than 650,800 jobs including tourism-related employment, while contributing US$8.2 billion to the country’s GDP annually.”
He noted that the statistics underscored the importance of aviation in the economy of Nigeria but, “in relation to our population size and geographical location, the country has the potential to do more.”
Sirika hinted that currently, there is no effective inter-modality of air transportation with other modes in terms of infrastructural linkages except road network. “However, construction works are at advanced stage to connect the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to rail while the master plans of the other international airports have provision for linkages.
The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation and Aviation, Sabiu Zakari, further said in preparation for an efficient inter-modal transport system, “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a robust road-map for the aviation sub-sector, and that the road-map intends to address some of the infrastructural gaps and challenges with a view to providing long-term solutions.
“This will be unveiled in the course of the meeting. Some of the key components of the road-map include airport concession, establishment of a National Carrier, establishment of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility, development of agro-allied cargo infrastructure, establishment of Aerospace University, setting up of aviation leasing company and the establishment of Aerotropolis or airport cities through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
“This will promote efficiency, effectiveness and better service deliver in the aviation sector as well as support the regional hub initiative which will contribute to the recovery of the nation’s economy.”