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FG bans use of Boeing 737 Max 8 plane in Nigeria

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—As FEC okays 64m Euros facility for water supply in Kano State
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

ABUJA – THE Federal Government on Wednesday banned the use of Boeing 737 Max 8 by any airline operator in Nigeria airspace.

Boeing 737

This is as the Federal Executive Council, FEC, has approved 64 million Euros facility for water supply in Kano State.

The Ethiopian Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane had on Sunday crashed few minutes after take-off in Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people aboard including two Nigerians.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said that such plane would not be allowed into Nigeria until the cause of the plane crash is determined.

According to him, “Regarding Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9, that has been in the news recently, there is no cause for alarm as there is no operator in Nigeria that is using that type of airplane.

“The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, whose mandate it is to issue advisory, has already issued advisory that nobody should fly into Nigeria or out of Nigeria using Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9, pending the determination of the actual cause of the crash in Ethiopia and also pending the outcome of the response of the manufacturer, which is Messers Boeing.

“Regardless of the enormous safety records of this plane 737, it has caused concern in the world of aviation and you know aviation is universal, whatever affects one affects the other because aircraft will be flying in and out.

“So, we have issued directive that no operator with Boeing 737 Max 8 or Max 9 should operate into and outside our airports and this is being carried out.

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“Regarding Air Peace and Arik orders, whether those orders were confirmed or intent, it is to our knowledge in the ministry that they won’t be in the country until the next two years or so.

“And this is enough period to sort out whatever problem it is with that plane. The world of aviation will not be sleeping just as we in Nigeria will not be sleeping.

“It is normal standard practice that once a particular aircraft type is involved in accident back to back, it is withdrawn from the market and see if there is something they are doing wrong.”

He explained that if it was confirmed that a particular problem like landing gear, they will issue an instruction to ground such plane worldwide until the problem is fix.

He said, “So, this case is not different. We pray for the souls of the departed and pray that the industry will continue to be safe and secure. We promise you that we are alive to our own responsibility which is to secure lives and property as a government.”

The minister disclosed that three memos were presented to FEC from the Ministry of Transportation and Aviation on Wednesday, which were approved.

He said the first one was the approval of N529 million for the supply and installation of X-ray machines, cargo scanners and walk-through metal detectors at Enugu Airport with a completion period of 12weeks, while the second was approval for the upgrade and rehabilitation of the main in-take transformer, landing system and domestic underground 11KVA circuit at the Malam Aminu Kano International airport N719, 332,450 million.

Sirika said council also approved the award of contract for the procurement of security and safety projects at the nation’s airports Phase II which include the supply of extreme x-tray machines at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport, Abuja at the cost of N4,530,955,500 billion.

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He said N622 million variation was approved by FEC for the Minna Airport terminal building, which was abandoned since 2012 for lack of funding.

Installation of the equipment, he explained was in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard, noting that before the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Nigeria’s score was 60 percent on security but currently its score is 96.7 percent on aviation security.

He said by May when the administration will be sworn in for its second term, Nigeria’s score would have risen to 98 percent in security and safety according to ICAO.

The Aviation minister said council also approved the rehabilitation of Minna airport terminal building which has been abandoned for lacking of funding. He said council approved the variation in the sum of N622,544,326.17 for the completion of the airport in 12 months.

Also briefing, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said the council approved €64,750,000 from French Development Agency for a national urban water sector reform project in Kano State.

The project is to improve the living conditions of up to about 1.5 million people in the greater area of Kano, including access to quality water and to improve the financial viability of the water board by increasing its revenue and enhancing its governance framework.

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The minister said the project was to rehabilitate and build the infrastructure needed to increase access to water services to populations in greater Kano and to help improve key sector reforms for the sustainability of the project.

Ahmed said, Kano State ministry of water resources through a state project management committee, was to implement the project, adding that the funding was a facility to the federal government of Nigeria that will in turn lend to Kano State at the same terms of conditions.

It has interest rate of 1.02 percent with a repayment period of 20 years and a seven year moratorium period. There is also a fee of 0.25 percent for appraisal and a commitment fee of 0.25 percent.

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