The proliferation of more airports by state governments has been condemned by an Aviation professional who believes hub development should be the focus.
The aviation professional in the person of Dr. Gbenga Olowo, President, Aviation Safety Roundtable Initiative, ASRTI, frown at the idea of building airports when the current ones are not even viable.
This is coming on the heels of the plans by the Abia and Edo State governments to build additional airports in their states.
The ASRTI President who stated this in an interview with newsmen described it as good politics but bad economics.
“What is the status of once glorious Benin Airport. Why not revisit the old ruins?
Olowo emphasised that airports are not only expensive to build because of the many facility linkages but also expensive to maintain.
“Airports maintenance are not cheap and must be done routinely. All we need is to make an effort at turning the existing ones (after proper enhancement) into hubs. There must be deliberate effort to develop hubs and not by building non functional airport silos all over the states overstretching the already stressed treasury”.
He wondered if the State governments had short term and long term development plans for their states, stressing that each state should necessarily have 5-10 year development plan for their states, which must be strictly honored by subsequent leadership.
“Government should prioritize the need of the people ranging from basics of life like Food, Shelter, Heath ,Education etc. Airport construction goes beyond acquiring hectares of land without perimeter fencing, compromising safety of operations ab initio , construct substandard runways that will be washed away in one or two raining seasons. It is a highly capital intensive project that should be embarked upon after a robust bankable projection. No thanks to the many abandoned airport projects by the states that are yet begging for funding. A case study of the State of Osun”.
He emphasized that, efforts should be targeted at building hubs in airports with many terminals to attract more traffic and airlines like the Lagos international airport.
Olowo said, apart from building hubs, the facilities a hub needs must also be the focus, adding that, the existing supposed airports hub lack these facilities, absent of concourse light train network to connect Domestic Terminals and International Terminals and vice versa both in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano.
“Installing of modern technology facilities like self- checking service kiosk, etc, are also lacking. There exists too many toll gate check-points rather than the many agencies to share data and file a single watch-list with security. This is a major disincentive for hub development. Passenger facilitation is made more cumbersome rather than the global effort at making it seamless”.
“For Lagos Airport for instance to become a hub, first class and world-class airport transfer connection facility is necessary. Concourse light train should be built to connect the terminals rather than allowing Transit and or Transfer passengers to check out of the customs, burst into the precarious mammoth crowed in rain and shine with their baggage in order to pick a taxi to the next connecting terminal”.
For cargo airports, Dr. Olowo lamented that the intra and inter state road linkages to the airports are in deplorable states and wonder how such airports would be useful to farmers and other users to deliver their products.
“This is very absurd and a shame at MMA in 45years of its existence since 1978. Transit/Transfer passengers dread Lagos Airport especially in the evenings. Regarding cargo airports, the roads to take the products to the airports are either not available or in bad shape with high propensity for trucks to tumble and perishable goods destroyed. Explosive goods will also explode. Day old chicken and eggs massively destroyed. States should put their heads together for the establishment of safe, functional and durable interstate road linkages first rather than conceiving the idea of a new agro Aerodrome. The airport in the western region of Ibadan and others like that are still operating below capacity”.
“The geographical neighbouring States should cooperate on Road & Rail linkages and upgrade the airport to a world class standard for the service of Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti,etc rather than individual state effort at establishing own airport. Its Bad economics if airports are to deliver economic of scale.“