Why we ‘delay’ in procurement of airport equipment – FAAN MD

The state of the Nigerian airports has continued to degenerate and is impacting the facilitation of passengers. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE-KORIEOCHA, Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu, the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) speaks on efforts to address these infrastructure gaps.

What steps have been taken to beef up security at the Nigerian airports?

We have resolved the security issue and the manifestation is on ground. On that singular incident of a mangled body found on the runway, there is still an investigation on-going, but we can’t make any public statement until the result of the investigation is out. There are a lot of theories on it. I won’t dwell much on this until the report of the investigation is out.

However, government processes and due process are necessary and also matter in all we do. A private airport can have a problem today and by tomorrow, it can deploy the solutions to it. We know the solutions to the problems we have, but we have to ensure that the due processes are followed for us to implement them.

Additional issues arise when you have to bring the equipment from abroad; there is manufacturing, shipping and others. You can know some things, identify them and before you can ensure a solution, it may take you up to a year.

I was a Director of Operations in FAAN when we realised there is the need for total surveillance for the whole airport. I went to Munich, Germany by the end of 2018 or so, identified the company; they came to do lead assessment twice; marking and survey. They gave us the estimate for visual and thermal infrared cameras – visuals to cover the areas for a whole day – sunrise to sunset and thermal from sunset to early morning. If a rabbit is walking within an 8km radius, which is 16km diameter, they will pinpoint it. The runway is 3.7km or 3.8km and we are buying about four of those cameras to cover the airfield.

We started procurement and Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation was very supportive. As of now, the procurement has been concluded and Mr. President approved it last year, part-payment has already been made to the manufacturer.

How has the crisis of Jet A1 affected the finances of FAAN?

We really sympathise with the airlines on the scarcity of Jet A1. If anything affects the airlines, it will affect FAAN and every other thing or organization in the industry. They are struggling to remain in business and people say they should increase prices. Some of these things are easier said than done, but you have to understand that the whole of aviation is all about enabling the economy.

Read also: No flight diversion over planned repairs of Lagos airport runway – FAAN

You cannot just be increasing prices arbitrarily. Your revenue will drop. We are working actively with the airlines with Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of NCAA and I can tell you that there is a lot of positive action from the government.

What are the major challenges confronting the operations of FAAN?

Some of the equipment we have is aging. Some of them are even 40 years and above. As the current management in FAAN, we want to make sure that anybody who comes as the next managing director of FAAN, we want to make their job easier. We are going out of our way to make sure we do our own. Now, we are fixing the 18L. You cannot land on 18L at night; now the contractor is back. He was supposed to finish in March, but the cables he had were of low qualities and we are insisting on original ones. So, he said he will fix it by June or July. So, after nine years, we are fixing some of these things that were abandoned and we are also starting new ones, including baggage handling, the central cooling system and others.

We contacted the airfield lighting company in Europe to fix the new ones, overhaul the whole airfield lighting system, there was no overhaul in 42 years. That is also in the process. We are fixing things so that those that come after us will get things easier.

Just last month, you clocked three years in office, how has the journey been for you so far?

Within the last three years, we have embarked on major repairs of aging equipment and components. I gave you an example in Lagos; abandoned runway and airfield lighting. Also, the key elements at MMA and any other airports that were old, but now, we are replacing them. Some were last replaced in either 1980 or 1985. Now, we are replacing them. It is only the air-conditioning system that we have not yet procured, but we are processing it and the airfield lighting, but all other basic ones –disable aircraft, baggage handling and other basic ones that the people see every day, we have started with them. We have started with the aero bridges and that is in terms of infrastructure.

We set up a committee last year because we saw that most of the facilities are aged. These equipment were supposed to be replaced every 15 years, but some have gone 25 to 30 years. So, we have a committee that is working and they are almost completing it. They gave us the state of the equipment for all the airports so that we can make use of it, work with the ministry and use it to know their status so that we can plan.

This year, we will work in Akure, Borno, Sokoto airports and next year, we will work in Port Harcourt, Benin and Yola. We don’t have all the money to fix all the problems at once, but we will do the entire airports gradually. So, when I leave here, those coming after me will be making use of them.

Nigerian carrier, Xejet partners Sierra Leone to operate her national carrier

Xejet Limited and the government of Sierra Leone, following discussions have agreed that the company may establish and operate a national carrier for the Republic of Sierra Leone.

This is also as Xejet Limited and Sierra Leone signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to operate Regional and International Flights from Lungi International Airport, Freetown.

The parties further agreed to work together to successfully execute the project to international standards.

The MoU was signed by Kabineh Kallon the minister of transport and aviation, on behalf of the Government and Emmanuel Iza for Xejet in the presence of Rex Idaminabo, consulting associate and Floyd Davis, deputy director SLCAA.

In attendance at the signing ceremony from the ministry of Transport and Aviation are Rex Bhonapha, deputy minister; Alhassan Kondeh, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Adams Steven, technical adviser; Hindolo Shiaka, director of transport and Macmond Kallon, policy coordinator, OPII-State House.

Xejet Aviation was set up to provide Air Transport Services in the areas of passenger, cargo, aircraft maintenance, and aviation training and is founded and run by a team of highly experienced technocrats with years of experience in Airline and Air Operation.

In January, 2022, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA issued the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) to Xejet. The new premium airline after the completion of the certification processes received the document at the NCAA office at the Murtala Muhammed International airport, Lagos.

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