The Senate may have dashed the excitement of Nigerians who are expectant that come June 21, domestic flights in Nigeria would resume. On Thursday in Abuja the Senate through its Committee on Aviation, said re-opening of nation’s airports for operation on June 21 as earlier proposed was unrealistic. They said their position follows concerns raised by workers in the aviation industry.
Recall that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had told Nigerians that domestic airlines would resume on June 21. The also rolled out a number of protocols through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that the operators and airlines must meet before the resumption. But, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, gave the position when the committee met with officials of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Air Transport Services.
The union officials raised concerns experienced by the workers from their various employers and called on the Federal Government to intervene. They told the committee, in their separate presentations, that workers had not been paid salaries for some months, while some were paid half or received quarter salary by their various employers since the COVID-19 lockdown began in March.
The aviation workers also noted that there was need for a special financial intervention and provision of necessary protocols, protective systems in view of the COVID-19 pandemic before reopening the airports for operations. Adeyemi said the senate was concerned about the issues raised by the aviation workers on their challenges, given that aviation sector was key to the social economic development of any country.
The Senator said, “Though you emphasised the need to unlock the airport, but the fact remains that there are quite a number of issues that are begging for answers. I do not see how we will allow the airports to be unlocked when you are telling us that some of your colleagues have not been paid for months or that they were paid half salary. It will be suicidal to allow you guys to man the facilities, if you are saying that you have not been paid, so we must see how we can address this issue. I personally nurse the fear that it will be practically impossible for us to unlock the airports and aviation industry on June 21, given the issues raised,” he said.