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Caverton Helicopters and the Nigerian dream – Adeniyi


If any proof was ever needed that Caverton Helicopters Limited has become a dominant player in the offshore support (oil and gas) industry, it is in the fact that the company now faces claims of preferential treatment between local and expatriate staff. 

By the time I first profiled Mr. Remi Makanjuola on this page in 2005, in a series I was doing on game-changing entrepreneurs in our country, I could count the number of staff of the then three-year old company. 

But by dint of hard work and resourcefulness, Caverton has become not only a big employer of labour but has also helped to change the aviation landscape in Nigeria.

Established in September 2002 as a charter, shuttle and maintenance company, Caverton Helicopters Limited came in with the aim of providing logistics support to the major players in the industry. 

Now with operational bases in Port Harcourt, Warri and Cameroon, the company has been able to provide a wide array of services to the offshore oil and gas industry as well as other business sectors, such as marine and coastal surveillance; emergency medical evacuation, search and rescue.

In May 2014, I witnessed in Lagos the listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange of the Caverton Offshore Support Group (COSG). 

On that occasion, Mr. Oscar Onyema, the NSE Director General, spoke about durable wealth that passes across generations. 

Last week, I was in Lagos to see first-hand the Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) aircraft hangar being built by COSG which would be the first in the country and the West African sub-region.

With an engineering partnership with major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the overall objective of Caverton is to fill the significant gap that the absence of such a critical infrastructure has created in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. 

When completed next year December, the hanger would save our country of the huge foreign exchange that goes into fixing airplanes abroad. 

The project will also generate jobs for thousands of Nigerian aviation professionals while helping in the training and retraining locally of aircraft engineers and pilots.

By helping to make Nigeria a hub in West Africa with the MRO hangar when completed, Caverton is helping to create the opportunity for both domestic and international airlines to maintain their aircrafts and keep domestic airline operators in business. 

The investment in the MRO hanger will also boost local capacity development while directing capital flow into the country as opposed to the current capital flight.

Once completed, according to Rotimi Makanjuola who conducted me round the structure under construction, the Caverton hanger will provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services for rotary wings with the capacity to also provide certain fixed wings services. 

Meanwhile, in my chat with Rotimi, he also dismissed the notion that the company discriminates between the local and expatriate staff.

To the extent that the present economic realities and escalating foreign exchange rates are making it increasingly challenging for Nigerian airline operators to carry out proper maintenance on their aircrafts, the Caverton MRO project has come at a most fortuitous moment for the nation. 

With the average cost of a C or D check running into hundreds of thousands of dollars, there are already serious concerns for flight safety since airlines could, counting cost, begin to cut corners.

The biting economic situation has already led to some airlines either being grounded or taking their services out of the country. 

That is why the Caverton MRO project deserves all the support as I look forward to its completion.

The Verdict by Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com


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