Reasons why we closed Benin, Asaba airports – Aviation minister

It was gathered that the Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, on Thursday said the Federal Government downgraded and closed down the Asaba and Benin airports, respectively, as a result of safety concerns.

He spoke while riding a bicycle on his way to the Presidential Villa for his last Federal Executive Council meeting with the President in Abuja.

Asked to state what legacy he would leave behind as minister, Chidoka said, “The legacy I want to leave behind is a legacy of safe and sustainable transport. In my bid as minister of aviation I have promoted the safety of airports and on my departure I had to take two decisions to downgrade Asaba Airport and to close down Benin Airport because of safety issues.

“I believe that other agencies involved in transportation of any form should continue to exercise the regulatory options of making sure that we have safe and sustainable transport.”

The Federal Government, earlier this month, had announced that it could not guarantee the safety and security of air travellers using the Asaba airport in Delta State, a development that warranted the downgrading of the facility.

Chidoka told journalists that he had placed on his table vital recommendations that should be considered by his successor, stressing that this would keep the airports safe and secured if implemented by the new government.

He said, “I have done a presentation on the industry and I am leaving it on my table. I am leaving the Paul Dike report on my table too. So whoever is my successor, when he comes, my advice is that he should read these two reports before making up his mind on where to go.

“The Paul Dike report is a report that came after the whole plane crashes in Nigeria and they looked at all the airports in Nigeria holistically and suggested measures to improve the safety and security of the airports. It is interesting to note that most of the recommendations in that report have not been done and we have found out that some of the recommendations, even in Port Harcourt where Sosoliso crashed, were not implemented. We just implemented some of them recently.”

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