The Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc (SAHCO) says the manufacturing of some major equipment by its team of engineers has helped to reduce the company’s cost of operations.
Basil Agboarumi, Managing Director, SAHCO Plc, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday.
He explained that the company’s engineers had recently manufactured a towable bowser to fuel the company’s ground support equipment at the airports.
Mr Agboarumi said following its success, the team was already working on the construction of another bowser and also building 10 baggage carts to be used for conveying baggage from aircraft.
He noted that the fuel bowser was the first in the history of aviation ground handling services in Nigeria to be created from scratch from locally-sourced materials.
“The production of the equipment is aimed at achieving higher efficiency of safe and fast service delivery; which is what SAHCOL stands for.
“The 3,000-litre capacity equipment can be operated both manually, with pump and also with battery. The equipment which is only towable has all the features of an imported motorised fuel bowser with modifications to fit the Nigerian terrain.
“The bowser is designed to be both rugged and comfortable for use by the handlers to dispense rapid fuelling in a safe and spillage-free manner,’’ the managing director said.
Mr Agboarumi said before now, the imported fuel bowser, amongst other ground support equipment, was purchased from manufacturers in Europe and other western countries at an equivalent cost of N65 million, excluding the cost of clearance.
He said: “This production has helped to overcome the problem of waiting incessantly for ground support equipment to be shipped to Nigeria.
“It has also reduced waiting time for clearance by the authorities at the ports before being brought to the workshop for use.
“Another reason is that the construction of this bowser has saved the company the cost of sourcing for foreign currency to purchase imported equipment.
“The fuel bowser is of great significance for a hitch-free re-fuelling of ground support equipment on the ramp.”
Mr Agboarumi said that SAHCO would continue to deliver quality and improved ground handling services to all its clientele across the nation’s airports through the procurement of more state-of-the-art equipment for operations.
He said that some new ground handling equipment of the company would in the next few weeks arrive the country, saying that this would further improve the quality of its services.
Also speaking, Toyin Oriawo, Acting General Manager, Maintenance and Engineering Department, SAHCO, said the team decided to work on the local manufacturing of the equipment to reduce cost of operations.
According to him, the idea of building the company’s equipment locally came up when it became difficult to import the spare parts for the motorised fuel bowser being used before now and some other equipment.
Mr Oriawo said: “For instance, the fuel bowser we purchased in 2013 from Europe cost N65 million excluding shipping and other costs but we were able to produce ours here with about N13 million.
“Also, a baggage cart cost 4,600 Euros abroad but here we are producing it with about N678, 000. We are working on 10 currently and when you look at this, you know that we are really reducing our operating costs.”
According to him, the baggage carts will be ready by January.
To further serve the airlines better, he said that the company recently imported tow bars to ease movement of aircraft.
Mr Oriawo noted that plans were also underway by SAHCO to build towable passengers’ desks.
“So with the right support, Nigerian engineers can do more local manufacturing; not just in aviation but in other fields to curb our dependency on importation of equipment and goods,’’ he said.
To keep the company going, Mr Agboarumi noted that there were three generators each of 500 KVA capacities; to power the equipment being used by the company.
NAN reports that SAHCO Plc., which is a subsidiary of SIFAX Group, is an aviation ground handling company that offers services in passenger handling, ramp handling, cargo handling and warehousing.
It also offers services on aviation security, baggage reconciliation, crew bus and executive lounge services and other related ground handling services.
The company was handed over to the core-investor (SIFAX Group) on December 23, 2009, after being carved out of the liquidated Nigerian Airways Ltd.