Reps vote in favour of bill to compensate residents around airports over noise pollution

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A bill seeking to provide compensation to residents around airports due to noise pollution has passed second reading at the house of representatives.

The bill seeks to amend section 3 of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Act, to enable the agency recognise environmental challenges affecting persons living around airports.The bill, which passed second reading on Wednesday, also seeks to set aside a specific quota of recruitment opportunities for host communities.Sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson, a lawmaker from Lagos, the proposed legislation, when passed into law, will also mandate commercial airliners to carry out corporate social responsibility projects in their host communities.

In his memorandum explaning the bill, the lawmaker said the noise and emission from airplanes have constituted a major environmental issue which has impacted negatively on the health of host communities.“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it can cause several health-related problems both in the short and long term, such as community annoyance, sleep deprivation, cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, heart disease and mental health issues,” he said.“Even though aircraft are becoming less noisy due to important technological improvements, the expected long-term increase in the number of flights (even after the COVID-19 pandemic) means that more efforts from all stakeholders to reduce noise and emission in the airport’s surrounding areas will be crucial.

“Usually, people living in residential areas around airports are the ones who get affected the most by aircraft noise and emission and, therefore, they are also the ones who tend to suffer more often from these environmental hazards and are always hungry for quick solutions.“The most common complaints are caused by increase in the number of flights, as well as night-time and low-altitude flights. Meanwhile, in addition to the above-listed problems facing the people living around our airports is air mishap. It is a most traumatic and tragic one.“It is a scientific fact that 80 percent of all plane crashes happen within the first three minutes of takeoff or in the last eight minutes prior to landing. This is because during these phases, the airplane is close to the ground and record has shown that most plane crashes in Nigeria happen not far from an airport.“In fact, since 1925 when Nigeria made its inroad into the aviation industry with the first aero plane landing in Lagos, the country has experienced over 50 serious air disasters, most of which happened around an airport. The first major air crash in the 81-year-old aviation industry was that of a federal government-owned VC-10 aircraft on November 20, 1969.”

According to the lawmaker, in developed countries, measures are in place to address such situations.He also said the bill will put the country on the path of global best practices.“This bill is a proposal to give legislative backing to the Federal Airports Authority, as a method of community engagement, to provide medical care for the inhabitants of the communities around Nigerian airports, and also to take them into consideration when giving jobs as a people who host the airport and pay dearly for its operation by the danger the airport operations impose on their health,” he said.“So, this bill, if considered and passed by this green chamber, will strengthen our environmental laws and bring it in conformity with the practices of other renowned countries of the world.”

The lawmakers unanimously voted in favour of the bill when it was put to a vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.The proposed law was subsequently refered to the committee on aviation for more legislative work.

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