NASS order to review tolling at major airports yet to be complied by FAAN
Barely two weeks after the Senate Committee on Aviation had ordered review of toll collection system in airports within the country, a source at the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has disclosed that management is not only happy for the order but are not serious in the review.
The source said “the order is still where the lawmakers left it, untouched. I do not think our management will do that because that is the main source of IGR and some of them ‘eat’ from their”.
“Let me tell you, these tolls are under lease and almost all of them are linked to one big Oga or the other. So, it will be very hard for an Oga to do what will lead to cutting his ration now.
Besides, the source continues, “The toll collectors are on lease which had been signed for a given time. They are private sector operators who had paid huge sums to acquire the tolling rights. So it will be very hard to ask them to review it as it will amount to breach of contract and reduction in their target returns on investments.
According to the insider, “any review will be at the end of each lease which FAAN may not be willing to tell anybody because they are all involved.
The Senate Committee had expressed worry by the constraint to free access into the airports and handed down the order to FAAN management late last month, but nothing had been heard up till now.
The committee during one of its oversight visits, directed the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), one of the aviation industry’s regulators, to ensure that the tolling system becomes flexible, to guarantee that vehicles conveying passengers are no longer delayed unnecessarily at the toll gates.
Also, during a meeting with regulatory bodies, also frowned at a situation where airport staffers are also compelled to pay tolls daily, which they described as “morally wrong”.
Business Hilights can recall that most of the airports, especially the international ones in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt, have a tolling system that mandates all vehicles, irrespective of its purpose or duration of stay, to pay tolls ranging from N300 to N600 to access the airports’ vicinity. But during rush hours, the tolling corridors are often congested with long queues. Attendant effect is that some passengers end up missing their flights.
Vice Chairman of the committee, Sen. Bala Na’allah, said that the Senate had received one-too-many complaints by passengers missing their flights, because “we are always doing our own things in reverse order.”
Na’allah noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards oft-cited by regulatory bodies, provided for easy access as much as possible in airport area without compromising security.
Addressing top echelon of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) among others, he said “All of you travel abroad and you know that there are short stay and long parking. And if you are dropping off passenger, you don’t pay. But that is not even the issue. The issue is that passengers will be on a very long queue to have access to the gate of the airports to pay while their aircraft are taxing out.
“Every five minutes in aviation is very important. If I take off now (from Lagos), in five minutes I’m almost around Abeokuta. That five minutes that you delay them to pay, is causing some passengers their flights, some of which are very critical.
Even though the Managing Director of FAAN, Saleh Dunoma, agreed with the concerns raised and promised the lawmakers that the authority would begin to look into the issues, one month after nothing has been done and nothing is being planned to be done.