Nigerians have long waited for the completion of four of the new airport terminals. WOLE SHADARE writes that despite many assurances, the completion date remains uncertain
Last week, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma gave assurance that the new airport terminals at the Lagos and Abuja airports would be commissioned July 2018.
He said that the Ministry of Aviation and Federal Capital Territory are working on integration of the Abuja light rail project with the terminal when completed.
Dunoma stated these at an interactive session with journalists at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
Thrice, FAAN had promised to deliver the project for use, thrice the promise had gone unfulfilled because of circumstances surrounding the project, which range from citing the facility in Abuja airport wrongly, blocking the control tower and other structural defects that are being rectified.
Dunoma’s assurance would have elicited joy among airport users and stakeholders. But that seems not to be as the latest assurance makes it about the third or fourth time that a target date would be set for the completion of facilities that started in 2014 but yet to be completed.
Dunoma, it would be recalled last year, said the two terminals in Abuja and in Lagos will come on stream because these are where we are experiencing upsurge in traffic.
“So since we have the same contractor handling the five terminals, we are asking the contractor to concentrate on Lagos and Abuja for now. When they are completed it will alleviate some issues as far as traffic growth is concerned in these two airports. Now, the other effort that we are making to get them on stream in good time is to make sure that other technical issues that are affecting or that will affect the operation of the terminal building are quickly handled.”
The $500 million terminal buildings in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano Nigeria were said to have stalled in their initial plan of completion of the facilities in 18 months, but lack of coordination by the last administration, coupled with delay in Nigeria’s little financial commitment led to delay, according a source who is conversant with the entire project but pleaded that his identity be shielded.
Since 2015, several completion dates had been set for the terminals’ completion for the Lagos and Abuja aerodrome, being the two airports with the biggest passenger traffic.
While the Abuja facility has reached 80 per cent completion stage, that of Lagos is said to be within 75 and 80 per cent stage.
Nigeria and China had, five years ago, signed a $500 million loan pact for the construction of the four new international airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano.
The 20- year, 2.5 per cent interest loan for the project has a grace period of seven years before payment.
The other three locations for new terminals are Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano. Chinese construction giant, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), which is handling the contracts, gave assurance that it would deliver the four new terminals in March 2015.
The project was expected to have been completed a year ago, but Nigeria’s default in paying her own counterpart funding had delayed the project.
The loans reflect the deepening economic ties between oil-rich Nigeria and China, which already is involved in building major roads and railway projects in the country.
Last November, members of the Joint Aviation Committees of the country’s Senate and House of Representatives, who inspected the airport, expressed satisfaction with the on-going work at the new terminal and have assurance to air travellers that the facility would be ready for use by next year.
Senator Adamu Aliero, who led the team, said: “The ministry is already aware of the power and water challenges and I think that they are doing something about it. Once they bring it to the notice of the legislature, we will do the needful and give them the necessary support, because we need this building to be put to use immediately after completion.
Aliero confirmed that the building is 80 per cent completed and what is left to be done is the finishing and the pieces of equipment to be used are already on ground.
He said: “The project manager also said that the control tower and fire station have to be relocated and that is why they are giving us till next year. If those things are relocated, maybe we will inaugurate it earlier than the end of next year.”
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nkeiru Onyejiocha, at the inspection of aviation facilities with her committee last year, stated that with the snail speed at which the project is going on, she doubted if the contractor would be able deliver the project to the Federal Government in December 2016 as earlier planned, urging the contractor to make haste so as to meet the deadline.
Facilities in airport terminals
Nigeria urgently needs to work speedily on the completion of the terminals to ease congestion at the ones in use that are overstretched.
Most of the airport terminals in Nigeria have inadequate and poorly maintained cooling systems. Whenever the airport is jam-packed, you see people sweating. Passengers have collapsed on several occasions while waiting at the arrival or departure terminals. Most airports make use of standing fans instead of air conditioners and many of the toilets at the airports are in horrendous conditions.
Nigeria has 26 airports, 22 are owned by the federal government and managed by FAAN, which is actually a huge mark in the aviation sector because several African countries don’t have these number of airports.
However, the major challenge in the sector is the lack of maintenance and no developmental policy to help improve the sector. Most of the airports lack the basic equipment and facilities such as passenger facilitation equipment like flight information display system, perimeter fencing, adequate fire cover and airfield lighting. It is worth noting that without airfield lighting, airplanes cannot land in an airport at night.
The greatest achievement FAAN record this year when it will open the five new terminals at the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu airports.
According to FAAN management, it is expected that when the terminals would come on stream there would be increase in passenger movement by 25 per cent in the next three years.
So it is projected that there would be overall passenger traffic from the current 15 million per annum to 22 million and international passenger traffic will increase from the current 4.2 million to seven million.
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