Aviation stakeholders have expressed concern over the aerotropolis project, saying it is impacting on workers’ welfare negatively.
This was part of the fallouts the recent emergency meeting held by members of the Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals in Abuja.
They vowed to resist the aviation minister’s directive on demolishment of offices of the agencies such as NCAA, FAAN, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, the Accident Investigation Bureau and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency located within the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, to give room for the aerotropolis project.
Secretary-General, National Union of Air Transport Employees, Ochema Abah, in a conversation with our correspondent in Abuja a few days ago, said the Federal Ministry of Aviation has failed to pay the relocation allowance of workers in affected agencies under its purview for over a year.
Abah said the staff who were relocated without proper preparation were in Abuja suffering, adding that they lack offices to work.
He said, “All those organisations who moved their headquarters to Abuja without any preparation, all the staff who were sent to Abuja are yet to receive their relocation allowance one year after.
“If you go around the so-called headquarters, you will see staff loitering around. They are just suffering and their families are here in Lagos suffering because they have not received their relocation allowances up till now.”
He argued that the aviation ministry sent members of staff the agencies under it on transfer all over the country without adequate preparation for their welfare and the specification of their jobs in their new stations.
According to him, the union felt that the government should have made the necessary arrangements and consultations before deciding to demolish the structures.
“Our position is that if there is any demolition, we will cause a disruption of work at all the airports. They have not reached out to us for any consultation,” Abah said.
In May 2020, the Federal Ministry of Aviation ordered all aviation agencies and parastatals to move their corporate headquarters to Abuja within 45 days.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, via the ministry’s Twitter handle, explained that the directive was an attempt to enforce the 2012 presidential directive that ordered all government agencies to move their headquarters to the Federal Capital Territory.
Controversies have continued to trail the minister of aviation’s directive to demolish these offices in Lagos.
Speaking with our correspondent, the CEO of Centurion Safety and Security Consult and aviation stakeholder, John Ojikutu, said, “You cannot build an aerotropolis within the airport. Aerotropolises are built at the boundary between the airport and the urban area. I have been telling them. I have gone around the airport with the MD of FAAN and carried everybody in the GAT to the other side of the airport, around Shasha and Ejigbo areas. The land there is about five kilometers. Why not go there?
“Why are they not going there? They have sold those lands. The past managements of FAAN have sold the land.”
He advised FAAN to sue the Lagos State Government over land, asking it the state government had given the buyers of the land C of O.
He noted that if the Lagos State government had given C of O to buyers of the land, it cannot deny knowing that the land belongs to FAAN.
He urged FAAN to recover the land and build an aerotropolis on it.
Ojikutu claimed, “If the Minister does what he says he wants to do, he will create a security problem there, because the single airport that links the international to the domestic airport has no public road. I have been mentioning that for more than 20 years. It is a service road. The tollgate that they put there is wrong. It should be before you enter the airport at the domestic end or before you enter the international on the other side, not between the terminals. It is wrong. They are going to create a security problem.
“We are having traffic gridlock in that area, which should not be. So, if they put anything there, they will create more hold up. I told FAAN way back during Obasanjo time not allow Wale Babalakin to build a hotel there. Don’t allow him to put the car pack there. The problem I have with the car park there is that from there you will be looking into the terminal, especially the presidential terminal.”
He disclosed that he had called for the movement of the terminal to where Babalakin built the hotel, adding that the terminal should move to where the car park is so and the place should be expanded for more aircraft.