Airport concession: Sirika assures workers of no job loss

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*Sirika (L) speaking at a stakeholders' meeting on airport concession held in Lagos recently. With him are the permanent secretary in the ministry of aviation, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari and the commissioner/chief executive officer of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Dr. Felix Abali

The minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has allayed the fears of aviation industry workers that they would lose their jobs when the airports are handed over to concessionaires.

The minister cleared the air on the matter following the feeling of apprehension by aviation workers, particularly staff the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) about their fate in the post airport concession programme.

The airports penciled in the first phase of concession are the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) and Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA).

Addressing the leaders of Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) in Lagos, Sirika also said concession programme will not be limited to the four international airports adding that the remainder would be done in the second phase of the programme.

Sirika who contended that “more jobs will be generated at the end of the day” explained that the rationale behind government’s resolve to give the facilities to concessionaires “is in the over-riding national interest in ensuring the establishment and sustenance of world-class standards in infrastructural development and service delivery.”

To allay the unions’ doubt, Sirika gave the union executives automatic membership of the concession project delivery committee to enable them (union leaders) contribute their inputs to better the process.

The minister reiterated that the airports are an eyesore in their present state and that they (airports) require massive improvement.

He pointed out that concession is not synonymous with privatisation or outright sale saying the “institutions being concessioned will remain the properties of FAAN and Nigeria.”

 “Government has no plans whatsoever to sell national assets but it was sheer misconception. But the truth is that government does not have money to invest and even if they could, with the sheer bureaucracy it could take ten years and Nigerians are tired of what is on ground and want something new,” said Sirika.

Responding on behalf of his colleagues, the president of ATSSSAN, Mr. Benjamin Okewu, said the unions were not in total agreement with the planned concession of the revenue generating airports but agreed that concession done in other climes had resulted in increased revenue, building of infrastructure and other developments.

He assured Sirika that the unions would meet to take a stand on whether to join the committee on concession or not and get back to the minister on their (unions’) resolve.

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