10 November 2017

Nigeria's Infrastructure Deficit Not a Problem, Says Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that Nigeria's infrastructure deficit is not a problem but opportunity for the private sector to exploit and make significant contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Osinbajo, represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Infrastructure, Kolade Shofola, at the Nigerian Shippers Council's (NSC) breakfast meeting for potential investors in the Truck Transit Park (TTP) projects in Lagos yesterday, said the idea of getting the private sector to develop the transport infrastructure is laudable and should be pursued to the benefit of the economy.

Besides, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who stated that the TTP in eight locations, and another six Inland Container Depots (ICD) were aimed at solving the current chaos in Nigerian ports, said he was optimistic that the N263.10 billion allocated to the ministry in the 2018 budget would sail through at the National Assembly without any reduction.

Also, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, decried the attitude of truck drivers and the bad roads that usually caused road crashes and eventual killing of people.Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Oscar Onyeama, stressed the need to exploit the bond market in the quest to raising funds for infrastructure projects.

However, aviation stakeholders have decried poor state of infrastructure and investment at nation's airports and airlines, describing it as unbefitting for the potential that abound in the air travel business.

The stakeholders, who spoke at the Aviation Round Table (ART) conference 2017 in Lagos yesterday, said most of the current physical infrastructure at airports were modelled after 1960 and have not really improved to accommodate sophisticated modern air travel business and benefit the economy.

President of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), organiser of the conference, Gbenga Olowo, observed that the problem of infrastructure is not exclusive to aviation, rather a challenge facing every sector of the economy "where critical facilities are either decaying or in deficit."

But Chairman of the conference and former Secretary-General of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Nick Fadugba, reiterated that aviation sector holds the key to economic development of the African continent, of which Nigeria is central.

Also, former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, observed that aviation sector could be divided into three: airlines, aerospace and onground infrastructure like the airport.

He said while a lot of investment is required for airlines and airports, "Nigeria is still zero in the aerospace section because we don't manufacture anything (aircraft and spare-parts) locally."

In a related vein, Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Captain Fola Akinkuotu, said that the current environment is such that it is so difficult for any airline to survive.Akinkuotu said even if government invests in all the visible infrastructure at the airports, the airlines must also upgrade their aircraft to be able to use the facilities and also be able to pay for services.


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