• Friday, July 12, 2024
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Concerns mount over airport fire trucks’ cost

Concerns mount over airport fire trucks’ cost

Concerns have been raised over the cost incurred by the federal government in purchasing 10 fire-fighting trucks and the late procurement of the vehicles, which are required for every standard airport globally.

Industry stakeholders who spoke with BusinessDay also said the federal government should have deployed the trucks to all busy airports in Nigeria instead of selecting Lagos, Abuja and Kano airports only.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, on Saturday, inaugurated 10 high-capacity fire-fighting vehicles to improve safety of flight operations at the nation’s airports, with the cost put at N12 billion.

The Lion Volkan 6×6 Brand, Major Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Vehicles, which carries 14,000 litres of water, 1,700 litres of foam, 250kg powder capacity each, and monitors the discharge rate of between 6,000 litres and 10,000 litres per minute, would be deployed to the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.

Security experts and aviation stakeholders have said if a local assembly company was contracted to provide these trucks, the government would not have spent as much as N12 billion.

They said the country would have saved scarce foreign exchange and provided more job opportunities if a local firm was contracted to provide the equipment.

Olumide Ohunayo, an aviation analyst, described the late announcement and cost of acquiring these equipment from Turkey when there is a Nigerian company that could provide the similar trucks and do the maintenance at a lower cost as worrisome.

“The government could have saved money, got more employment for Nigerians than going to Turkey to buy these trucks. There needs to also be provision of water for the fire hydrants. While we see water trucks around the airports, there should be provision of water to handle emergency situations,” Ohunayo said.

He, however, hinted that acquiring a fire hydrant is a necessity for the safety and certification for airports and therefore is not something that should be provided for just a few airports but must be available in all airports.

“This should not be news, rather a part of a regular process because without them, the certification of the airports will not be in place. If the fire cover of an airport is not up to standard, the airport would be downgraded or even closed. This is a necessary requirement for airports to operate,” he said.

However, BusinessDay’s investigation shows that Innoson Motors, the major vehicle assembler in Nigeria, does not have the same capacity of trucks procured by the federal government.

While trucks procured by the federal government have capacity for 14,000 litres of water, Innoson Motors, for instance, has trucks with capacity for 8,000 litres of water.

A quote from Innoson Motors shows that it costs N119.6 million to procure a fire-fighting truck with Cummins Engine, power steering, pneumatic brake and clutch system, complete air condition, water and foam discharging valves (2,000 litres foam and 8,000 litres water).

John Ojikutu, security expert and former military commandant at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, expressed over the cost of the trucks and the late purchase.

“Why are they buying the trucks now? Why not many years before now? Many died in the Sossoliso crash because of lack of water in the reservoirs and the hydrants. It means these have not been corrected since then across all the airports? It will be a colossal waste if the issues mentioned above are not adequately addressed,” Ojikutu said.

He said while the fire-fighting equipment are necessary, “the questions necessary to ask is whether there is adequate skilled manpower to operate them.”

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He said: “How many of the airports can benefit from their distribution? Have we repaired the airports’ hydrants through which they get sources of water for operation, knowing full well that the 14,000-litre water capacity can only last for less than two minutes? The water hydrants, like the runways, have not got periodic maintenance in the last 20 years.

“To effectively deploy them for operation, you would have to deploy not less than two to each airport in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt but what happens to other airports with traffic like Enugu, Benin, Ilorin the alternative to Lagos, Calabar and Kaduna? None of the equipment can be effective or justified if there are no water hydrants or water reservoirs in the airports.”

Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, has said that with an acceleration rate of 0-80km per hour in 30 seconds, each of the trucks possess limitless capacity to discharge while in motion, and are also equipped with under chassis nozzles to tackle running fuel fire.