The inability of cargo to be freighted through air is causing a lot of havoc to the aviation industry’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) of Nigeria.
Its failure is however, having a negative effect on the Yakubu Gowon International Airport, Jos as its revenue generation has continued to dwindle.
Mr. Rindap Nantim, the General Manager, Jos Airport, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) told the Avia-Cargo Committee set up by the agency that the airport is now a shadow of itself.
According to him, in the 1980s and 1990s, Jos Airport was reputable for exportation of cargo from all North Central Zone of the country to cities in Nigeria and outside the nation.
He emphasised that in the past, flowers, mangoes, meat and other agricultural produce from the farms were exported through the airport, saying that while the products were available in the farms, they are no longer exported through the aerodrome.
He explained that the plan of the management was to make Jos Airport a hub for the North Central Zone, hoping that this would be realised with the renewed vigour of FAAN.
He said: “Our dream is becoming a reality with this Avia-Cargo Committee. One of the things I discussed with the management of FAAN at a retreat organised for staff in 2022 in Kano was cargo development for our airports, especially the Jos airport.
“In the 1980s and 1990s, fresh flowers, meat and other agricultural produce were airlifted from this airport to several other cities and countries, but now, the airport is a ghost of its former self. This is not because the facilities are not there, but no one is encouraging investors to come here.”
In his speech, Mr. Ikechi Uko, the Coordinator, Avia-Cargo Committee, said the essence of the committee was to know why the airport failed to be a leading exporter of aviation cargo and to proffer solutions.
Uko explained that Nigeria would not be number one exporter of cargo produce on the continent without Plateau State, which is known as the ‘Food Basket’ of Nigeria.
According to him, the Federal Government was relying on the committee’s report to set a policy for cargo rebirth in Nigeria and assured that the committee would not fail the nation.
Uko told Nantim that the committee comprised experts from various sectors, including the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigeria Quarantine Service, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), among other agencies.
“We are here to know how Jos became number one and how we ruined it. What are the lessons that we can learn from the past and how can we make Nigeria the number one in Africa? Was it lack of airlines, logistics or capacity that made us failed?” he said.
On his part, Mr. James Shalangwa, a member of the committee, explained that Jos airport was a beehive of activities in the past with at least 24 flights daily.
Shalangwa emphasised that airlines like the former Nigeria Airways, Okada Air and Kabo Air were competing for cargo exports from the airport, but regretted that all these had collapsed in recent times.
Shalangwa blamed the consolidators like cargo clearing agents for the current challenges, but expressed delight that the Federal Government through the management of FAAN had shown the commitment to make Nigeria an exporting nation.