New controversy over the new Lagos airport terminal
FA new controversy is brewing over the newly commissioned terminal at Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, reports Daily Trust.
The controversy, it has been learned, stems from the airport’s poor design since its inception, which conflicts with the airport’s original master plan.
Daily Trust reports that the design flaw had blocked commissioning of the project, which began as early as 2013 with a concessional loan from China Exim Bank and was built by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC).
While other terminals including those at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja; Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers State was completed, commissioning of the Lagos terminal was stalled due to a design error as the apron was facing the wrong direction.
The design error prompted the federal government to order the demolition of several buildings around the MMIA.
A magnificent old building, which was once the headquarters of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), rebuilt and outfitted in 2019, was demolished alongside private sheds with an investment of over N5 billion.
Some of the office staff almost shed tears when asked to relocate to Abuja where there is little to no office space or accommodation for them as the new head office is still under construction without the assurance that it would be completed soon.
Apart from AIB, some other private companies and government agencies such as Dominion, Evergreen Apple Nigeria, Caverton, ExecuJet Hangars, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Office Complex, Federal Road Service Corps ( FRSC) and towing companies close to AIB-N regional headquarters were affected.
However, despite the demolition, the apron is not wide enough to accommodate jumbo jets like the Boeing 777, 747, A380, Dreamliner, among others.
Airport apron or tarmac is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked.
With the default, sources said it would be extremely difficult to get major international airlines to move the terminal.
A senior source at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has confirmed the development, saying it is a major headache that the federal government is trying to solve.
“What you said is very right about the new terminal. The apron is too short and not wide enough despite the demolition of several buildings. And you don’t use small planes for international operations so as not to start have a quagmire. It’s a serious design flaw,” he said.
Daily Trust reports that part of the terminal’s original location was near International Runway 18R.
But the location has been embroiled in a legal battle between FAAN and the late Harry Akande who allegedly obtained ownership of the land during the tenure of former minister Senator Stella Oduah.
Industry watchers say an out-of-court settlement with the late Akande would have saved the nation from the current “embarrassment” and a huge amount of money that would be paid in compensation.
Aviation analyst Group Captain John Ojikutu said: ‘Adjustments to the Avonbridge are definitely needed and an increase in gates from 6 to at least 12 like the current terminal.
However, he said the commissioning was rushed and had “political overtones”.
FAAN’s Acting Managing Director of Corporate Affairs, Ms Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, in conversation with our correspondent, said there were expansion plans in place to address the concerns.
She said, “You know, when you build your own house, you build and then expand. There’s room for expansion to accommodate whatever you’re talking about.
“There is going to be an expansion. There are already plans for expansion. You can’t build that kind of building without considering bigger planes, it doesn’t make sense.
According to her, credit should be given to the current administration for carrying out a project inherited from the previous administration.
“People should see the positivity of what has happened and as I said there is room for expansion and the government is aware of that,” he said.