Air transportation is one of the most important means of moving humans and goods from one location to another due to its relative safety and speed. Moving by air saves time and stress which is why the medium is much preferred by those who can afford it.
Air transport is however well known for its usually total or near-total fatality in the case of a mishap which is why worldwide, best safety measures and precautions are put in place to protect the lives and properties of travelers. The aviation industry in Nigeria has witnessed several upturns and downturns which has left many people with a rather lukewarm attitude to the industry. Recently, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced the return of our national carrier, a development that is believed will help to fully reawaken and reposition our air traveling system to compete globally.
Major Problems Of Air Transportation In Nigeria And Possible Solutions
The majority of airport terminals in Nigeria are plagued by inadequate and not well-maintained cooling systems. Anytime there is a huge number of people at our airports, the result is that people start to sweat profusely due to the heat. There have been recorded cases of passengers collapsing on several occasions while waiting at either the arrival or departure terminals of our airports. Some of these airports have resorted to the use of standing fans against air conditioners which are used for cooling in other countries with well-functioning and adequate facilities at their airports. Another aspect is the poor maintenance of our airport toilets. These toilets are usually in such horrendous conditions that they are unusable for passengers.
Problems Of Air Transportation In Nigeria And Possible Solutions
- Inadequate Infrastructures At The Airports
There are 26 airports currently in Nigeria both local and international. 22 of them are owned and controlled by the federal government. These federal government-owned airports are being managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). The sheer number of airports in the country should be a thing of joy as most African countries can’t boast of a similar number of airports. The major challenge facing our aviation industry is the absence of infrastructures that will position the industry for accelerated growth. This, however, is a big dent on the image of the federal government as it is the main player in the ownership and control of airports in Nigeria.
Several of our airports lack such basic equipment and faculties such as passenger facilitation equipment like flight information display system, perimeter fencing, adequate fire cover, and airfield lighting. It is worthy to mention that without airfield lighting, airplanes cannot land in an airport at night. This makes this issue a very important one that must be addressed and put to rest quickly.
Nigerians will vividly recall the incidence of November 30, 2016, when the body of a dead stowaway was found in the main wheel of one of Arik Air’s aircraft in South Africa. Such incidents can only happen in poorly secured airports and sadly that’s t situation with most of our airports in Nigeria. There exists almost no demarcation between passengers arriving in the country and those departing in most of our airports. At night, most of these airports have poor lighting systems which can easily facilitate security breaches.
Due to the epileptic nature of power supplies Nigeria, some of our airports have no backup power supply meaning passengers have to wait in darkness If the power supply to the airport is suddenly cut off by the power authority.
- Lack Of Technical Know-How
As of now, Nigerian airlines still depend on foreign manpower as their engineers. Getting these expatriates and paying them is such a heavy burden on the neck of our airlines as these expatriates charge as much as three times what is being paid their Nigerian counterparts. To make matters worse, some of these expatriates demand to be paid in foreign currencies that may be so hard to get in the country.
Also, training of pilots is something many of these airlines indulge in so as to ensure their pilots are well trained and up to date with developments in their field of work. These pieces of training are usually very expensive and unaffordable for the pilots to undergo from their own purse which is why the airlines have to come in. The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) located in Zaria, Karina state trains air personnel such as pilots, engineers and other technical personnel needed in the aviation industry but pilots trained at NCAT do not get employed due to the fact that these pilots will need more flying exposure in order to be type rated. This is why most airlines would rather prefer to go for expatriates.
Without a doubt, the government is a major stakeholder in the aviation industry which is why whatever the government is doing or is not doing may have either good or grave implications for other players in the sector. The year 2016 saw international airlines Iberia and United Airlines exit the Nigerian aviation industry due to claims of an unfriendly environment for business conduct. It is claimed that these airlines were unable to send back their revenue to their home countries due to the unavailability of foreign exchange. This is one such scenario where government policy affected the aviation industry.
Solutions To Problems Of Air Transportation In Nigeria
- The onus is on the federal government to put in place facilities and equipment as well as basic infrastructure to ensure smooth conduct of air travel business. If this is done, our aviation industry will be better equipped to discharge its functions effectively and in line with globally accepted standards.
- Airport security is a very serious issue that must be addressed very well. If the government feels it cannot handle security at our airports effectively, private hands can be brought in to manage that aspect with the government only acting as a regulator.
- The government should ensure that air travel personnel trained in Nigeria receive the best training available and are employable on graduation.
- Lastly, the government should ensure its policies are friendly enough to attract and keep investors from all over the world.
Conclusion On The Problems Of Air Transportation In Nigeria And Possible Solutions
Air travel in Nigeria is without doubt currently on a growth path which is encouraging for both passengers and industry players. It is hoped that in a few years, the industry would have positioned itself to be one of the best in Africa if not in the world.
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