The recent commissioning of ten high-capacity firefighting vehicles by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has been met with mixed reactions from the public. While some have commended the move as a step towards improving safety and emergency response at airports across the country, others have raised concerns about the cost of the vehicles and whether they are truly necessary.
Sirika had Sunday via his official Twitter handle announced that he had just commissioned ten firefighting trucks worth N12bn.
He said,”Just commissioned 10 Firefighting trucks, total cost of over 12Bn Naira. More to come in due course. Safety has been the Buhari focus in Aviation, since 2015. Hitherto FAAN has not bought new trucks in 15 years.”
However, Nigerians on Twitter reacted to the post by the minister.
The 2023 Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowere said,” Wow! You mean you bought a single fire engine for over $2 million each. Wonders shall never cease. You and @mbuhari really finished Nigeria! #RevolutionNow.”
A Twitter user, @n6oflife6, said,” The cleaning out these people are doing before leaving office. Heaven helps whoever enters next. You literally spent 30 million United States Dollars on 10 fire trucks. even if they were made by Bugatti and Lamborghini @officialEFCC please check.”
Another Twitter user @yuteoflondon, said,” spent the last hours researching how much fire trucks cost, the expensive high-end trucks cost $650,000 (which Nigeria never gets the best, I can bet these are used trucks too).
“NYC firefighting trucks cost $550k each, what truck did you buy for $2.8m You sir and your cohorts are thieves. Give the spec of this truck and what makes it N1.2B each. the ridiculous broad daylight robbery of our coffers.”
Another Twitter user @aisosaigiebor, said,” This is absolute madness. How can you buy 10 fire trucks for 12bn Naira @1.2bn each?
Fire trucks don’t work well without a direct source of water which we don’t have in most places. This looks like a China truck and from my find, the one that holds 12000 litres is about 80,000$. Why would you pay 1.2bn Naira for one truck? This is insane.”
Reacting, Centurion Security’s CEO, Capt John Ojikutu, raised concerns over the deployment of new firefighter vehicles to Nigerian airports.
He stated that while the vehicles are sophisticated and of high quality, there is a lack of skilled manpower to sustain their operations and ensure periodic maintenance.
Capt Ojikutu emphasized the need for proper funding and planning, questioning why such contracts were only being awarded at the end of the administration’s term when funds were scarce and external borrowing was necessary.
Ojikutu said,” Each is good enough to be deployed to an airport as Cat 9 but do we have the required skilled manpower to sustain their operations and the periodic maintenance? It is not sufficient to go buying sophisticated equipment without adequate and skilled manpower to sustain its operation life.
He further questioned why such contracts were only being awarded at the end of the administration’s term when funds were scarce and external borrowing was necessary.
“The relevant question to ask is, why are all these buying and project contracts coming during the outgoing administration and not at the beginning or mid-term? Where is the funding coming from at a time the government administration is complaining of scarcity of funds and going borrowing funds in external loans?” he added.
On his part, the Secretary-General, Aviation RoundTable, Olumide Ohunayo, noted that although this is coming at the last lap of the end of the administration, the effort of the minister is commendable.
Ohunayo said,” Firefighting trucks are part of the safety requirements for an airport to operate and also to be certified.
“I think it is commendable to say that the government is buying these trucks for our airports which will also help the airports in safety aspects to improve the certification process and help in reducing the cost of insurance for general use of the airport. For some time now they have not bought new fire trucks, this is coming in at the 90th minute,” he said.
The PUNCH reports that the Lion Volkan 6×6 Brand, Major Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Vehicles, carries 14,000 litres of water, 1,700 litres of foam, 250kg powder capacity each, and monitors the discharge rate of between 6,000 litres to 10,000 litres per minute would be deployed to the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
Also, with an acceleration rate of 0-80km per hour in 30 seconds, each of the trucks possess a limitless capacity to discharge while in motion, they are also equipped with under-chassis nozzles to tackle running fuel fire.