The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, on Tuesday said that safety and efficiency in the aviation sector would be the primary focus of his administration.
Sirika made the pledge after receiving handing-over notes from outgoing Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Hajiya Binta Bello, in Abuja.
He said that safety and efficiency of the sector began with the operators, including pilots, engineers, traffic controllers, electricians and other professionals at the airport.
He said that operators did not necessarily have to be the airline owners, explaining that operators were also “those who ensure that the airspace is safe to fly, aircraft is fit to fly and equipment working appropriately.”
Sirika called for adequate training of personnel to avoid errors that could lead to accidents and loss of lives, adding that air transportation gave no room for mistakes.
“Primarily, there are those things that are very critical to the safety and efficiency of the sector; those are things that you don’t necessarily see beginning from who is the operator.
“The question is, e these people appropriately trained, are they proficient, are they knowledgeable, experienced, healthy and so on?’
“Also, are those equipment in good conditions, maintained, because in aviation, it is safety first.
“If a pilot makes one mistake or an engineer makes a mistake, there is the tendency that he would have over 500 people dead, including himself,’’ he said.
The Minister stressed the need for a second runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, saying that it was long overdue.
He said that the call for the runway started in 1996, explaining that the runway, currently 30 years since operation, was the second busiest after Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
According to Sirika, if we don’t do something fast, the airport will fail like we experienced in Port Harcourt, and we cannot afford that in Abuja.
He stated that a single runway was an invitation to disaster and restated the need to get the second runway.
He said that establishing Airport Development Fund or Aviation Sector Development Fund was imperative to the development of the sector.
Earlier, the permanent secretary had said that funding and staffing were the main challenges in the aviation sector, adding that effort had been made to ensure that agencies were properly manned.
“When I took over in May, I met a debt of over N100 billion and I have not been able to pay up to N1 billion, which is a huge challenge.
Bello said that while plans were on ground to construct the second runway in Abuja airport, no contract had been awarded, contrary to insinuations in some quarters.
According to her, the ministry is at the stage of looking out for consultants for the design and other technical issues and conduct survey to arrive at appropriate cost for the construction.
“The completion period for the ongoing China-Exim Bank Airport Project is around middle of 2016 and the work is progressing according to schedule.
Contributing, Permanent Secretary, of the Ministry of Transportation, Mr Sabiua Zakari, assured the minister of his cooperation and loyalty of the ministry’s staff in pursuit of “change mantra” of the current administration.
Zakari urged the chief executives of aviation agencies to put in their best to support the minister to achieve the mandate given to him by the president. (NAN)
Source : Leadership