Aviation stakeholders on Sunday commended the Federal Government over the completed new International Terminal of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Rivers State.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the formal opening of the terminal had removed the toga placed on the Port Harcourt International Airport as ”the worst airport in the world.”
NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday inaugurated the terminal which was built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.
Mr Gbenga Olowo, President, Aviation Round Table (ART), said Nigeria deserved to have world class airport facilities like its contemporaries across the globe to ease passenger facilitation.
“We are happy that the terminal has been opened by the president. However, we are concerned about the issue of maintenance. We hope that it will not be treated like the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
“When you build a facility like this, there is what is called routine and scheduled maintenance that must be adhered to strictly to make it effective and efficient.
“I want to recommend that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), as the regulator of the industry, should put its eyes on our aviation facilities.
“We don’t want to arrive at that airport in six months time and discover that everything have broken down due to lack of maintenance,” he said.
Olowo noted that the ART’s position had always been that the government monopoly has impeded the efficiency of Nigerian airports.
He said the government had been making plans to concession the major airports in Nigeria, adding that the plans should be accelerated to make them more effective.
Also, a travel and tourism expert, Mr Ikechi Uko, said the opening of the terminal was a welcome development to Nigerians.
Uko said: ”It is a good thing because we have finally removed Port Harcourt as the worst airport in the world.
“I think it should not just be the international wing alone because we only have Lufthansa and Air France that are operating there but something should be done about the local wing, too.”
He noted that as the biggest economy in Africa, Nigeria should be boasting of world class airports because it was the first contact people do have with the country.
“Our airports have to be if not the best but one of the best. I am happy with the fact that they have completed the Port Harcourt terminal.
“Focus should now be on that of Lagos, Abuja and Kano,” Uko, who is the promoter of the Akwaaba African Travel Market said.
On his part, Capt. Folu Oladipo, commended the past and current administrations for initiating and completing the project.
“While these are significant advancements, we have to acknowledge that we are still lagging behind in West Africa compared to recently completed projects in Accra and Dakar.
“We definitely have a long way to go to being a global player, but I have no doubt we have what it takes,” Oladipo said.