IKEJA- The Association of Foreign Airlines Representatives in Nigeria (AFRAN) has appealed to the Federal Government to commence the expansion of the cargo apron of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), in Lagos.
Its president, Mr Kingsley Nwokoma, who made the appeal on Sunday in Lagos when he spoke with aviation correspondents, said that the present limited size of the apron was affecting their operations.
The reports state that the airport’s apron is the area of the airport where aircraft are parked, to load or unload luggage, refuel, and where intending passengers used to board.
Nwokoma said the expansion of the cargo apron was long overdue, after decades of its construction as its current size could not match the scale of their operations.
He said the expansion would generate more revenue for the government, especially at this period, when the price of crude oil was crashing.
Nwokoma said that it was becoming more difficult for wide-bodied planes to land at the airport, as a result of the inability of the government to construct a bigger apron for the airport.
He urged the government to address the situation, to avoid embarrassment from the international community.
“We have an airline that brings in goods and is directed to park at the international terminal’s tarmac, instead of using the cargo terminal.
“This is because the cargo apron is so small and we have had issues and incidents involving cargo planes in the past.
“That the cargo apron has not been expanded since the airport was built and inaugurated in March 1979, is an eye sore; we have been crying, calling for this expansion because safety is key here,” he said.
Nwokoma frowned at how the cargo apron was abandoned by a contractor that was awarded the contract for its expansion, noting that the facility would be of benefit to the entire nation.
“This is one of the projects that the government must look into,” he said.
Nwokoma also said that the introduction of an access road that would control the movement of clearing agents into the cargo area was the solution needed for sanity to reign at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) shed.
The AFRAN president urged the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) should install close circuit television (CCTV) cameras within and around the airport, to monitor all ongoing activities there.
“If we are going to achieve any positive development, provision of trained manpower and installation of modern equipment must be accorded top priority.
“ The airport must be illuminated also,” he said.
Nwokoma also urged the government to reduce the price of aviation fuel, given the fall in the price of crude oil in the world market.