Anxiety as Senate warns of imminent air crashes
Palpable fears were created yesterday at the floor of the Senate, following a motion tagged “Disturbing Development in the Nigerian Aviation Industry” presented by Senator Dino Melaye.
Alluding to the fears in his contributions to the motion, the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said the fear of plane crashes was real as airlines could no longer access foreign exchange to service their aircraft.
According to him, some operators have resorted to cutting corners as a result of their inability to access foreign exchange, thereby endangering the lives of air travellers. He submitted that many airlines in the country were bankrupt “and dead’’.
“These problems are caused by policies of government. Monetary policies of government have not allowed the airlines to operate.
“Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended says that government must ensure the security and welfare of the people.
“We are likely to have a spectre of crashes because most airlines cannot access foreign exchange to service their aircrafts,” he said.
In his ruling, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, said that the withdrawal of airlines from Nigeria’s aviation industry was a bad omen which may lead to massive job losses.
“A situation whereby airlines cannot send back their money to their home countries is a disaster. Competition becomes less and the few left will charge as they want.
“It is embarrassing that airlines have to go and refuel in Ghana,” he said.
The lawmakers urged the Federal Government to prevail and insist that airlines used the Naira as the official currency in all transactions in the industry. The Senate therefore resolved to assist the Federal Government in its planned intervention in the current challenges in aviation sector, warning that government to ensure that all operators who would benefit from the intervention would not increase fares arbitrarily.