Anxiety enveloped the aviation sector on Saturday following the failure of the Minister of Aviation , Hadi Sirika to give a definite date when domestic flights will resume.
Sirika who joined members of the Covid -19 Presidential Task Force on a dry run test of facilities at the Abuja and Lagos Airports on an AeroContractors airplane said though the team was impressed with the readiness of facilities to commence operations, he , however , cannot put a date on when domestic flights will resume. Affirming that a few things were yet to be fixed at the airports, Sirika listed the gaps to include : surface cleaning and installation of baggage spray machines , which he said were ready. Sirika spoke at the end of a dry run test conducted at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
He said: ” I think we are good to go. You know there are two components of it. The health and safety components. This thing is not as easy as you think. I don’t want to give a date but I am sure we are getting there.
“I am not 100 per cent satisfied. But, I am 90 per cent satisfied because our airports both Lagos and Abuja, have been clearly marked , we have trained our staff to ensure physical distancing, we have provided Covid-19 compliant toilets. We have provided hand sanitizers, we have put measures in place to guide people efficiently. We have also put measures in place to reduce the number of people the Co-Bus could take. ”So we have done everything humanly possible to ensure that people keep physical distancing and they are wearing their mask. ”The boarding and waiting areas were clearly marked for passengers to observe social distancing while the toilets have automatic hand washing points. ”Similarly, automatic sanitizer dispensers were provided at every point of the boarding just as there are automatic temperature screening points. ”Once we start, all the physical distancing measures would be observed. The markings in Lagos are as much as we have in Abuja,” he said.
He went on: “So we have done everything humanly possible to ensure that people keep physical distancing and they are wearing their mask. So I am very satisfied and happy.
“ On palliatives, the minister said in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ministry of Finance the amount for the palliative would be announced soon.
Apart from Sirika, others in the team were the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu; Minister of State for Health, Olounnibe Mamora; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of State for Education, among others. As soon the team landed in Lagos at around 12:30 PM, aboard Aero flight, members inspected both the departure and arrival areas of the airports to assess the social distancing measures put in place.
Also speaking, the PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu expressed satisfaction with the level of preparation by the Aviation sector to restart, saying the stakeholders have done tremendously well. He assured would be passengers that the aviation industry is safe for them to fly and they would be well protected against contracting the dreaded virus.
He said the ball was in the court of the passengers to take responsibility by obeying all safety instructions.
Also minister of State for Health, Mamora said compliance was very critical and government might be forced to enforce compliance.