Confab rejects proposal for revival of Nigeria Airways

Delegates resolved that major airports in the country should be linked to functional rail lines

The National Conference on Tuesday rejected a proposal asking President Goodluck Jonathan to revive Nigeria Airways or in the alternative establish a new national carrier.

It also rejected an amendment that Close Circuit Televisions be installed in highways across the country.

The Conference rejected another amendment recommending that a driver who kills while driving out of reckless, negligence or drunk, shall pay N10 million to the family of the victim and if he cannot pay the said sum, he shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without an option of fine.

It, however, adopted another proposal asking the Federal Government to ensure that every major airport in the country is linked to functional rail lines to boost easy access to the airports.

These are some of the decisions taken by the Conference while voting on the recommendations of the Committee on Transport and the amendments proposed to them.

The Committee chairman, Musa Adede, a former senator, had earlier presented the report after which delegates proposed amendments to its recommendations.

In the report, it observed that the existing transportation infrastructure in Nigeria comprising roads, railways, ports, airport and pipelines was inadequate in terms of accessibility and inter-operability.

It noted that the transportation sector represents “a significant proportion of Nigeria’s key infrastructure because it facilitates the links between spatially located facilities and acts as mechanism for maintaining social contact.”

Transportation, it said, affects the totality of a country’s activity ranging from its people, economy, environment and even its politics.

The report also noted that an ineffective transportation system could frustrate the efforts of government and the people, while an adequate transport system could impact positively on the national development and enhance the standard of living of the people.

“A well-planned and developed inter-modal transportation system is an essential infrastructure requirement for socio-economic development,” it said.

“Transportation goes beyond facilitating the movement of people and goods but also contributes to the regional and national development creating positive multiplier effects on all sectors of the economic activities, which will lead to job creation and poverty alleviation.”

During the debate on the report, an amendment was proposed to ask “the president to take immediate action to revive Nigerian Airways or establish a new national carrier that is private-sector driven as done in different climes.”

However, Mr. Adede said there was no need for the amendment because the Nigerian Airways had long been disbanded while the workers were being owed entitlements.

He also said that the defunct organization was still owing some debts abroad.

Other recommendations and amendments accepted are that:

Government should initiate and construct a rail line from Lagos to Enugu through Ore to ease movement of goods and passengers from the Western flanks of the country to the East and South South;

Rail lines should be made to have a dualisation policy to allow for mass movements of trains as obtained in developed rail systems in other parts of the world;

-Effective rail system should be developed such that petroleum products can be transported from one part of the country to the other in order to reduce road accidents and other associated hazards;

-Government should as a matter of urgency complete the National Hanger Project at Uyo Airport in Akwa Ibom State so that it would serve as a repair and maintenance hub to airlines operators;

-Government should ensure urgent construction of perimeter roads and fences around the airports so as to enhance airport security and prevent incidents of stray animals colliding with aircraft on the run way;

-Abandoned Onitsha Cargo Airport in Anambra State should be completed to enhance commercial activities in the South-east;

-Government should fast-track the completion of Lokoja and Onitsha ports projects; and also dredges all inland waterways;

-Government must, as a matter of priority, fast-track the completion of East-West Road which links the southern parts of the country to the western part to enhance effective transportation within the geo-political zones;

-Government should establish Road Development Fund for the development and maintenance of public roads and that the sources of revenue may include among others, toll gates with a provision for alternative routes, vehicle tax, weigh bridges, parking fees and petroleum tax;

-There should be a legal framework for the private sector participation in the financing and management of public roads in the country;

-The Federal Government should start work on the Nigerian sector of the Trans-African Highway as a way of easing transportation with the African continent;

-The Aviation Technical Centre in Zaria in Kaduna State and Maritime Academy should be well funded to make them more efficient;

-The dredging of River Benue and all other water ways, while the transport sector should be decentralised for efficiency; and

-Incentives should be given to the private sector to build trailer parks, while major airports should be linked to rail lines for accessibility.

The Conference declined voting on an amendment proposed that the N51 billion in the banks unclaimed dividends should be channelled to the railway and that latter claimant of such dividends may be allocated shares in the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC.

This followed warnings by some delegates that doing so would not only send wrong signals to the international community, but would create uncertainty in the Stock Market.

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