Flight diversion to Ghana, Benin, Niger embarrassing – Nigerian Reps
The House of Representatives has described the inability of planes to land at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos, leading to flights diversion to neighbouring countries as embarrassing. The House, at the plenary on Tuesday, resolved that both the airlines and the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, should be responsible for the compensation of passengers inconvenienced by the development. The lawmakers particularly asked all relevant regulatory agencies and other stakeholders in the aviation sector to ensure that all the acquired landing equipment, including Category III Instrument Landing System and other supportive equipment, were installed in the designated airports. In addition, the lawmakers mandated the House Committee on Aviation to investigate the matter and identify who should be held responsible for the plight of stranded passengers, whose flights were diverted to neighbouring countries. These resolutions were passed following the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Mr Olawale Raji, titled ‘Urgent Need to Complete the Installation and Upgrade of Landing Equipment in the Nation’s Airports to Enhance Safety in Our Airspace.’ Moving the motion, Raji said it was an “embarrassing situation in the aviation industry, with the diversion of international flights coming into the country to Accra and Lome due to poor landing equipment.” The lawmaker stated that there was a need to act immediately to correct “this anomaly which is causing loss of revenue and giving the country a bad image.” According to him, the country is suffering economic losses as a result of that. Raji said, “The House notes that over the years, there has been several clamours from stakeholders in the aviation sector and other well-meaning Nigerians on the need for the Federal Government to adequately equip and upgrade the nation’s airports with modern landing equipment from the current Category I and II in use in Nigeria to Category III ILS. “The House also notes that these agitations were predicated on the high number of delayed and cancelled flights during the harmattan season and inclement weather conditions, which make landing and take-off of aircraft very difficult or near impossible. “On account of poor visibility, some foreign airlines are presently diverting their international flights to Accra in Ghana and Ndjamena in Chad and some other neighbouring countries with its attendant negative consequences. “The House is aware that the Federal Government has made budgetary provision for the procurement and installation of modern landing equipment in seven airports in Nigeria, amounting to about N7.8bn in Phase 1, comprising Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Katsina, Maiduguri and Sokoto airports.” The sponsor recalled that the Cat III ILS had recently been installed by NAMA at the MMIA Lagos to enable pilots ‘carry out approach to landing’ in zero visibility and see the runway no matter the weather conditions. He said recent reports in the media, however, also indicated that the instrument was not functioning at its optimal capacity due to the non-availability of other supportive equipment like the runway and approach lights yet to be installed and upgraded by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria. Seconding the motion, House of Rep member representing Saki West/Saki East, Mr Olajide Olatubosun, stated that while the ILS upgrade was good, the planning especially the timing was bad. He noted that Nigeria had lost £5m as revenue due to the diversions.