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Concessioning: MMA2 as epitome of sustainable infrastructure

It is over 13 years the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) was built under PPP arrangement. The terminal still remains Nigeria’s best, a situation that underscores the importance of private sector in airports infrastructure development,It is over 13 years the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) was built under PPP arrangement. The terminal still remains Nigeria’s best, a situation that underscores the importance of private sector in airports infrastructure development, writes WOLE SHADARE

 

 

Mixed reaction over airport concession

The Federal Government may have perfected plans to concession some of the airports across the country amid cacophony of protests from various quarters. The protesters cite fear that the process may not be fair.

 

It is curious that the opposition really wants government to privatise those loss-makers first, as loss-making is attractive to an investor.

While some have condemned the action of government to concession the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Port-Harcourt International Airport, Port-Harcourt and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, others have thrown their weight behind the move.

Case for airports concession

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, always seizes any opportunity he has to explain the reason for concession of the airport terminals.

The minister noted that the idea would boost revenue drive of the government, maintaining that President Muhammadu Buhari, unlike past governments, had vehemently refused to sell government property.

Government disclosed that its desire to concession some of the airports was borne of out the need to provide infrastructure to replace decrepit facilities that had gulped billions of naira, which is not commensurate with what people see at various aerodromes across the country.

Truth be told, it is becoming inexorably clear that the only option Nigeria has to develop its airports and deploy state of the art terminals, technology based facilitation utilities and synchronised security system is to attract external or local funding from investors.

Looking inward

What is actually baffling is the idea of looking for what is  not missing. Nigerians have capable investors, who can undertake to invest in airport infrastructure and naturally should be considered.

 

Despite the controversy that trailed the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) built and managed by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), the terminal has maintained the first position in terms of best run terminal in Nigeria. It is world-class, according to experts, who reasoned that the firm should have been considered in the new project or any other investor of proven integrity.

MMA2 as Guinea Pig

MMA2 was a test case or the Guinea Pig for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in Nigeria with regard to aerodrome.

The PPP has gained global recognition as the key vehicle for the provision of necessary public projects due to the continual inability of governments to fund infrastructural needs of their people with Nigeria not different as the governments at national and sub-national levels have adopted this model of infrastructural development as a means of addressing this challenge.

Nigeria has also keyed into the opportunity of exploiting the financial muscle and management capabilities/expertise of the private sector to the PPP as a platform for the funding and execution of public projects, especially commercial infrastructure like roads, ports, airports, rail system, and public services in the area of healthcare.

It was on this premise that the government, through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), entered into concession agreement over the building and operations of MM2 airport with Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd, which agreement has been the subject of disputes that have not been fully addressed yet.

The airport terminal has the capacity to facilitate four million passengers per annum with its modern technological innovations, which include the Common Users Passenger Processing System (CUPPS), self-service check-in kiosks, Automated Access Gates and the Baggage Reconciliation System (BRS).
The terminal was futuristically constructed to accommodate 10 million passengers annually.

Babalakin’s lamentation

Chairman, BASL, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), lamented how the progress of the terminal had been stifled as a result of litigations, noting that over N200 billion judgment debts awarded in his favour after FAAN reneged on the agreement his firm and the airport authority had before work started on the multi-billion facility had not been settled.

A former Assistant Secretary General of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Alhaji Muhammed Tukur, described the terminal as world-class, stressing that the facility is the only one in Nigeria that boasts of self-service kiosks in the country that makes airport facilitation faster aside other facilities.

 

MMA2 is the first and only terminal to deploy such in Nigeria, West and Central Africa. Within three years of the concessioning and in the face of serious hostility and inconsistency on the part of the government, Bi-Courtney Limited completed the new domestic airport, which is now famously known as MMA2.

 

Providing a world-class experience for every visitor, MMA2, he said, offered everything the arriving and departing passengers might need, from efficient check-in and access to top-notch airport facilities, tourism information and transit information, fabulous shopping and dining options and superb accommodations as well as extensive meeting and conference facilities.

 

Experts’ views

Tukur stated that for over 13 years, MMA2 had grown in leaps and bounds, adding that there had been a tremendous expansion in all aspects of business, from aeronautical services to space and premises, cargo operations, car park, security, safety and marketing.

 

The MMA2 became the proverbial rejected stone that became the cornerstone, considering airlines’ apathy to the terminal.

 

With one airline (Chanchangi) in May 2007, six airlines now operate to various destinations from MMA2. They are Aero, Dana, Med-View, Azman, Max Air, Arik, Air Peace, Ibom Air and First Nation (currently not in operation).

 

An airline operator, who spoke to New Telegraph on condition of anonymity, said MMA2 was first choice because of its state-of-the-art facilities, soft services, excellent airline and passenger services, seamless passenger facilitation that gives their customers an unforgettable experience and fantastic relationship management.

 

His words: “Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) has remained committed to providing first class service and maintaining the highest standard of professionalism through continuous investment in power generation, passenger facilitation and modern technology”

Last line

This airport terminal has been variously described as the best in Nigeria today and certainly the first airport terminal to be built in Africa with private funds without any support of the government.

It is acclaimed to be the most modern, functional, and well-run domestic airport terminal in sub-Saharan Africa

 

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