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NASS moves to solve aviation fuel scarcity puzzle

The Senate Committee on Aviation, Monday resolved to dig deep and expose the ‘cartel’ behind the lingering scarcity of aviation fuel which had crippled flight operations of many domestic airlines and left many air travellers stranded in more than two months now.

The Committee, currently on oversight function visit to some federal formations in the industry was lead by Sen. Bala Na’Allah, Vice-chairman of the committee.

The committee met with top officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).

Addressing aviation correspondents, Na’Allah said that the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, had expressed concern over the state of the industry and mandated the committee to urgently find lasting solution to the challenges.

He said “We have appropriated money to various agencies in the last budget, and we want to analyse their areas of successes and challenges.

“This will enable us to take them into account in the preparation of the 2017 budget, because we are all aware that the country is currently facing reduction in revenue generation.

“This is due to the declining oil price at the international market.

“We must first of all accept the fact that the industry is in trouble. We have been involved in self-denial for a very long time, but now, we must be able to tell ourselves the truth.

“There is no intention to indict anybody. Collectively, we are all guilty, but individually, we are looking at what can be done to reposition the industry and put it back on track,” he said.

Na’Allah alleged that a cartel of oil marketers was responsible for the scarcity of aviation fuel, saying that the country would no longer allow few individuals to hold it to ransom.

“The only way we can solve this problem is to unbundle the importation of the product. If anybody doesn’t want to supply fuel to Nigeria, the person can go.

“The committee is going to look into it and we will be very decisive about it because this is an issue that is peculiar to Nigeria as the price of aviation fuel has even fallen globally,” he said.

The Committee advised FAAN to stop collecting toll fees from workers working within the international airport, adding that it was morally wrong for the agency to impose such burden on them.

Responding, the Acting Managing Director of NAMA, Mr Emma Anasi, said that paucity of funds had affected the completion of its Aeronautic Information Services (AIS), an Automation project, across the nation’s airports, saying “If we are able to have adequate funds, I am hoping that before the first quarter of next year, we will have the project running.”

Also, the Managing Director of FAAN, Mr. Saleh Dunoma, said the scarcity of aviation fuel had affected the operations of some airlines.

 “The airlines owe us a lot of money and they need to pay their outstanding debts, but when you look at the reality on ground, it is difficult for us to put more pressure on them”.

Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, said that the authority would continue to work with the committee on ways to improve the industry.