Eleven years after the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos taxi-way (Taxiway B) was abandoned under decrepit condition, the Federal Government has begun the reconstruction of the multi-billion naira facility to ensure air safety. Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this at the weekend, stressing that government was focusing more on critical safety facilities at many of the country’s aerodromes. A taxiway is a path for aircraft at an airport connecting runways with aprons,hangars, terminals and other facilities. They mostly have a hard surface such as asphalt or concrete, although smaller general aviation airports sometimes use gravel or grass.
The minister noted that reconstruction had commenced in earnest, lamenting that the project was abandoned for 11 years. According to him, “work has commenced at Lagos Taxiway B (known as Central Taxiway B), abandoned for 11 years. It is a safety and efficiency matter, set to be delivered in February 2021.” The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu, who was with the minister during the inspection, said the Taxiway B, after completion, would boost ‘operational optimisation of the existing runway at the international wing of the airport.’
“It means that the airport can handle more planes now and the runway can serve as a safety item, because aircraft can be separated on the ground and have more room for maneuvering in and out. It can also be used in time of emergency,” said Capt. Yadudu.
“It is a safety critical item that has been missing at the Lagos airport and many of the pilots have been complaining. It is focus of the minister to get it done and delivered on or before February 2021 and it is a landmark effort by the minister,” he added. A source, who is aware of the project when it was first conceived, said the project was abandoned by the House of Representatives members then after an investigation. “House of Representatives members at the time began an investigation, ‘throwing the baby with the bathwater’ and the project was abandoned for about 11 years. It is a very critical safety element at the Lagos airport and it a good thing that the Minister is embarking on the project,” the source noted.
This is coming as the government has announced that the Air Field Lighting (AFL) of 18L Murtala Muhammed Airports will come on stream by next year with standard lighting. Resuscitation of abandoned Lagos Airfield Lighting (AFL) project is on as that of Kano Airport is almost nearing completion, and that installation is expected to start on the Lagos Domestic Runway very soon. FAAN, however, said it was awaiting the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)’s approval to enable the contractor move to site. “Primarily, the issue of 18L had a solar AFL but it was not accredited for our operations.
We will put AFL. We already had the AFL in February or March but coronavirus delayed. In the first week of September work on taxiway Bravo will commence. While 18L will be installed early next year, a standard incandescent lighting for 18L,” said Yadudu. It would be recalled that in 2008, the 2.7 km runway ’18 Left’ domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, was rehabilitated for use without any airfield lighting leading to only daylight operations into the nation’s busiest airport.