Africa: Nigeria’s Economic Woes May Further Deepen As Insecurity, Aviation Crisis Worsen

Insecurity

Economic activities across Nigeria may further nosedive in the nearest future unless the Federal Government takes decisive steps to curb insecurity and address the crisis in the aviation sector.

According to findings by the Guardian Newspaper, Nigerians were already avoiding travelling by road and rail as a result of the activities of terrorists and kidnappers while the air option left to them has suddenly gone out of their reach due to the high cost aviation fuel, which has forced domestic airlines to hike their fares.

Recall that the oldest operating carriers in the country, Aero Contractors, recently suspended operations over its depleted fleet capacity to operate reliable scheduled operation. The airline had about eight out of its nine airplanes on the waiting list for routine maintenance, but lacked foreign exchange to purchase spares and meet obligations.

Less than 24 hours after Aero closed shop, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended Dana Air operations with immediate effect, citing inability to run safe operations and meet financial obligations.

With 10 local airlines suddenly down to eight, the effects have started to tell on local travels. The Chief Operating Officer of one of the airlines had recently confided in The Guardian that the airlines were faced with multiple challenges of fuel and capacity constraints.

He narrated that out-of-operation Dana Air has a fleet of nine aircraft and daily flights network on Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Owerri and other routes.

READ: Africa: Rising Insecurity, Paucity Of Funds may hamper completion of Kano-Kaduna Rail project in Northern Nigeria

“Following its exit, those are routes that are now further devoid of flight options. There will be scarcity and disruptions. Those routes that have alternate airlines will push up prices seeing a spike in demand. Think of those people who depend on flight to get in and out of those places to avoid being killed or kidnapped on the road or rail.

“Aero Contractors has good connectivity between the North and South regions. Those routes will suffer and miss their operations. So, when I say that we are in a mess, that is what I mean and it is only going to get worse for the entire industry,” he added.

As of yesterday, The Guardian learnt that most seats on the busy Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Kaduna routes cost between N100,000 and N110,000 for one-way economy seats, while round-trip tickets cost between N180,000 and N200,000, depending on route, airline and time of purchase.

An airhostess at the Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa, Rivers State, who preferred anonymity, told The Guardian that there was serious decline in the number of air travellers, stating that most airlines do not have up to 50 per cent of passengers for each trip.

Speaking on the development, a resident of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, who often travel by air, Mr. Douglas Manuel, said: “The scarcity in the aviation sector has to do with the inability of the refineries to work despite the Federal Government channeling resources to revamp them.

“Government should help the private sector to perform. There is need to regulate the private sector in a way that they can become optimally functional. Government needs to step up its game to ensure that the refineries are working. It bothers me because this is a public problem.”

Speaking in the same vein, a management expert, Dr. Damian Osondu, warned that the situation could bring the economy to its knee given the hyperinflation the country was already contending with. He stated that the development was dangerous to the survival, growth and stability of any economy, as well as the government in power.

Osondu said: “This is the worst any economy and government can face. It would leave survival of the people and businesses at the mercy of the few individuals who can afford it.

“The inability of the country to sufficiently provide for the aviation sector in terms of fuel and other facilities will result in the crippling of airlines due to price increases. On the other hand, those who managed to stay would decide to increase their fares above 100 per cent. This by implication would lead to a drop in the number of people who use air services to do their businesses and make their journey; not everybody can afford the new prices increase.

“Now, on the long run, you will also discover that certain services that are rendered using the air will reduce and increase cost for those that managed to stay. It is not a good development, especially when there are no palliatives or alternatives that could address the increase”.

He added: “When you think of going by land, the fear of being killed or kidnapped will make you avoid certain travels. Now, who produces the goods? Who distributes the goods and to what extent? This becomes the challenge. The truth is that what is going on now will continue to stifle the economy. It is a serious matter that will impact negatively on development and growth. There are many hands that are active, yet there is low production. What we have cannot go round and the overall implication is increase in hunger, starvation and poverty.

“When you also take it further, you will discover that you have created insecurity, because when the people are hungry, they are bound to be angry and they will look for whatever means to at least feed. This could be by killing those that have resources, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery and other forms of crime.”
Osondu added that the first victims of this level of infraction are the small and medium scale outfits, because they largely depend on their day-to-day activities to survive.

Osondu said: “This is the worst any economy and government can face. It would leave survival of the people and businesses at the mercy of the few individuals who can afford it.

“The inability of the country to sufficiently provide for the aviation sector in terms of fuel and other facilities will result in the crippling of airlines due to price increases. On the other hand, those who managed to stay would decide to increase their fares above 100 per cent. This by implication would lead to a drop in the number of people who use air services to do their businesses and make their journey; not everybody can afford the new prices increase.

“Now, on the long run, you will also discover that certain services that are rendered using the air will reduce and increase cost for those that managed to stay. It is not a good development, especially when there are no palliatives or alternatives that could address the increase”.

He added: “When you think of going by land, the fear of being killed or kidnapped will make you avoid certain travels. Now, who produces the goods? Who distributes the goods and to what extent? This becomes the challenge. The truth is that what is going on now will continue to stifle the economy. It is a serious matter that will impact negatively on development and growth. There are many hands that are active, yet there is low production. What we have cannot go round and the overall implication is increase in hunger, starvation and poverty.

“When you also take it further, you will discover that you have created insecurity, because when the people are hungry, they are bound to be angry and they will look for whatever means to at least feed. This could be by killing those that have resources, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery and other forms of crime.”

Osondu added that the first victims of this level of infraction are the small and medium scale outfits, because they largely depend on their day-to-day activities to survive.

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