Posted by Sade Williams
The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu has listed poor infrastructure, duplication of functions by government agencies and other issues at airports as those hampering the development of cargo business in Nigeria.
He said such multiple activities of government agencies lead to increased cost of operations while lack on infrastructure lead to loss of revenue.
These airports, Yadudu stated, would freight fresh agricultural produce from local communities to markets within Africa, Asia, Europe, USA and other countries across the world.
Yadudu listed other challenges facing the development of cargo business to include: lack of synergy with ground handlers, limited number of cargo facilities to handle import, export and trans-shipment, low patronage by domestic airlines, thereby making the airports underutilized and lack of specialised warehouses.
He however disclosed that pending the take-off of the National Single Window, the agency is currently exploring the possibility of creating a One-Stop-Shop in the Cargo Terminal.
The One-Stop-Shop, he hinted, would comprise of all critical border agencies working together from the same location to fast track cargo clearance and reduce impediments to trade through sharing of information physically and electronically.
Yadudu stated that export at the Lagos Airport is currently done 24h hours while import business is carried out from 8am – 4pm, adding that plans are at advanced stage to extend the working hours for import operation to 24 hours service .
He added further that the agency has provided cold rooms by concessionaires like ARAMEX and SAHCO, adding that apart from that it has also created conducive environment for the ground handling companies, by deploying two cargo scanners to the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) PLC shed.
Other steps, the FAAN Managing Director said the Authority has taken includes the expansion of some of its cargo aprons at some airports, which according to him are ongoing, with a few nearing completion.
He said that the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika created the current Aviation Road Map of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari and that part of the gains of this roadmap is the designation of five international airports as Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
According to him the features of SEZs include but are not limited to: Geographically delineated area, usually physically secured; sngle management or administration; offers benefit for investors within the zones; having separate customs area (Duty-free benefits) and streamlined procedures
He added that one of the features is that it has a special regulatory regime.
“We are committed to ensuring that all impediments to trade at our airports are abolished through continuous collaboration with Stakeholders and in compliance with the relevant Articles of World Trade Standards.
“The recently installed upgraded Baggage Reconciliation System (BRS) shows FAAN’s commitment to adopting modern/advanced technologies. The designation of some of our airports as SEZs would create an enabling business environment as it would provide all features of a Free Trade Zone,” he said.
He added that FAAN in its effort to improve on its service delivery, ‘has embarked on several projects among which is the construction of New Passenger and Cargo Terminals’, adding that the first to be completed is the Port-Harcourt Cargo Terminal fully equipped with modern facilities and billed to be commissioned and put to use in no distant future.
A recent report, the FAAN MD said suggests that cargo volumes are expected to grow by 20 per cent in 2021, adding that this compared to air cargo volume in 2020, shows a significant increase even in the face of decline in aviation activities in 2020 occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which adversely affected the industry globally.
He noted that Nigeria is richly endowed with numerous agricultural produce with ready international and local markets and untapped export potentials and that the current Nigerian administration has put in place a strong policy to develop and promote local content in all sectors of the economy.