Chief Executive Officer, Bi-Courtney aviation Services Limited (BASL), Capt. Jari Williams has blamed lack of commitment by government and stakeholders as the major reason behind the inability to establish a functioning Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Nigeria.
This is as government has made it clear that establishing an MRO facility is just not a priority in the meantime as the nation is undergoing serious recession.
Captain Williams made his thoughts known yesterday at the 3rd Quarter Breakfast Meeting of the Aviation Round Table (ART), held at GolfView Hotel & Suites, GRA, Lagos where he said that the MRO conceived by the Akwa Ibom State Government was truncated due to the absence of the much required support from the above mentioned.
A very passionate Williams, who was once the CEO of the Akwa Ibom State Government owned Ibom Airport Development Company (IADCL), operator of the Akwa Ibom International Airport, said that stakeholders, who ordinarily should have charted a roadmap for implementing the project, truncated it.
According to him, Nigeria is long overdue for a world-class MRO facility to serve the domestic and regional maintenance requirements of the aviation industry and provide support for the aircraft leasing business stating that an MRO is, no doubt, a critical and very important aviation infrastructure.
He urged government to start from what they have stating that, “Start from the lowest point. Akwa Ibom has a hangar already so all that needs to be done is to support it somehow. It isn’t about feasibility studies it’s about the fact that someone whether private or government has put the hangar in place but instead of support one Minister goes and another one comes and there is a change in policy and nothing happens, he said while responding to a reaction.
He said,”Investing in an MRO is known to be extremely capital-intensive, requires significant collaboration with other industry stakeholders, and the rate of return on investment (ROI) is rather slow. Thus, to attract willing investors, the government of the day has a key role to play especially by providing juicy incentives and business-friendly policies.”
“With regret, we look back at the failure of past governments in providing the required leadership to undertake this sort of project. Similarly, they failed to put in place necessary policies and legislative framework for such a project to rest on.”
“On the few occasions, when either state governments and/or private investors made attempts to commence an MRO, the constant bottlenecks always frustrated the implementation of such plans.”
He went on to state that establishing an MRO will require subvention and support by government. It will also require other incentives like tax waivers, provision of low-interest rates, approval of pioneer status, designation as Free Trade Zone, a well-defined policy, funding from institutional lenders such as the African Development Bank or the World Bank, technology transfer, as well as collaboration with foreign manufacturers and governments, in order to create an environment in which the industry can thrive.
However, while reacting to the debate on MRO, Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika represented, said the present economic realities make it impossible for government to directly be involved in an MRO facility stating however that it would create the right environment for private sector participation.
The Minister represented by Captain Abdullahi Sidi, Director, Operations and Training of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) appealed to the gathering to understand the nation’s plight but assured on the ministry’s support.