Agro Cargo Airports: A Beautiful Concept If Priority Is Right, Says Bernard
The Group Managing Director, Finchglow Travels, Mr. Bankole Bernard says there is nothing wrong with the emerging trend of various state governments building agro-cargo airports as long as their priorities are right.
Speaking in an interview with aviation journalists yesterday, Bernard said: “There is actually nothing wrong with it if they have gotten their priorities right. You cannot be in a state where all the roads in the inter-state is bad and agro airport is the priority. You cannot be in a state where all the schools are mushrooms. Teachers’ salaries have not been paid and agro airport is what is important to you. So, the government needs to get their priorities right. The concept is a beautiful one but it is about setting priorities,” he said.
On the challenge of trapped funds of over $400 million which foreign airlines have not been able to repatriate to their countries, he said it is necessary for Nigeria as a country to fulfill Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) obligations for the sake of reputation and to encourage more foreign airlines to keep operating into the country.
“This is an unfortunate situation where I will consider certain things a misplacement of priority. We have a choice in business. If the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) says their funds as it were, once they make sales in local currency, change it to foreign currency, we should be able to fulfill that obligations because reputation damage causes a lot and it is one of the things that made an airline like Emirates and Etihad Airways to leave when we could have had more airlines coming into the market, but they don’t want their funds to be trapped. So, they will go to another market that is lucrative and this would not have been possible if we were doing proper dialogue,” he said.
On the prevailing effects of the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bernard said “the fact remains that the government did not tell us the truth about what happened. But I do hope that one day, somebody would be bold enough to tell us the truth about what happened. The fact that the cash was not made available was intentional. If cash was not working, but financial transfer was effective, the agony will not be too bad.”