By Haruna Salami
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi has expressed serious concerns that unless the Federal Government urgently intervenes to rescue the industry, air disaster was waiting to happen.
Adeyemi stated this Monday while speaking with journalists at the National Assembly.
He said the Aviation sector is “strategic and instrumental to the socio-economic growth of nations”, but added that what Nigeria has today was “nothing short of death in the Air”, unless the Federal Government intervenes.
According to him, public hearings and budget defence which took place last week further brought challenges in aviation to the fore that needed immediate intervention.
“It is very important to note that the aviation sector is regarded as a strategic industry, not only for its potential for economic growth, but also its crucial role in national development and regional integration i.e. facilitates international trade by providing fast transportation network.
“We particularly held interactions with Air line Operators and a few important factors came to fore. One of which is that the steps needed to bring about resuscitation and sustainability in the aviation industry is far beyond the capacity of the airline operators.
“It will indeed require executive orders which must be adhered to”, he said.
The lawmaker complained that airline operators couldn’t clear imported spare parts of their planes, thereby causing devastation amid high cost of fuel and maintenanace of aircraft.
He called on the Federal Government to grant waiver on imported spare parts and increase the N4 billion Federal Government intervention funds, saying that smaller countries like Senegal and Rwanda have robustly intervened in their aviation sectors.
“The custom department has not complied with the executive order to waive any form of taxation on importation of spare parts and commercial aircrafts” adding that ” airline operators now cut corners and manage to fly at very high risk”.
“It has been discovered that there are still multiple forms of taxation persisting.”
Adeyemi posited that plight of airline operators was further compounded by non compliance of Executive orders as well as their inability to access foreign exchange.
“The inability of the airline operators to access foreign exchange as and at when due to enable them pay the value added tax for their aircrafts.”