Why we’re tearing down MMIA for repairs, by Sirika - THE NATION
Federal Government said it has concluded plans to demolish some sections of the Murtala Muhammed International (MMIA), Lagos, to enable Julius Berger Nigeria Limited carry out massive repairs on the 40-year-old facility.
Since 1979 when the airport was inaugurated, no expansion work has taken place despite increase in the number of foreign and indigenous carriers using the airport.
Investigations revealed that over 27 foreign carriers including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Lufthansa German Airlines, Air France/KLM, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Air Italy, Turkish Airlines, and Royal Air Maroc operate at the airport.
Others operating flights into and out of the MMIA include Delta Airlines, South African Airways, Rwand Air, Air Namibia, ASKY Airlines, African World Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Egypt Air ; CamAir, Cedar Airlines, Air Tunisia, Air Cote D’Ivoire, and Middle East Airlines, among others
The increase in the number of airlines over the years, according to investigations, necessitated the expansion of the terminal.
The proposed demolition of the airport was a fall out of a comprehensive study carried out by construction giant – Julius Berger Nigeria Limited.
Besides the comprehensive study, airlines and other users of the terminal have over the years canvassed the overhaul and expansion of the facility.
Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who made this known in an interview with The Nation, said government was embarking on the massive repair of the facilities because it has become overstretched.
He said the huge reworking of the premier gateway is expected to cost over N14 billion.
Part of the major work to be carried out include replacement of the electrical cabling; structural repairs on the integrity of the terminal; extension of two levels of the terminal ; rebuilding of the gangways as well as aviation bridges.
Other areas to be fixed in the terminal include the faulty elevators and the air-conditioning system.
According to Sirika, the tear down would be effective after the new international terminal constructed with loan from the Chinese Import Export Bank has been completed and inaugurated for use.
He said the facelift will not affect operations at the premier gateway as all carriers at the terminal would have moved to the new facility scheduled to be opened soon.
Sirika said the MMIA over the years has suffered neglect, forcing government to think out of the box on how to upgrade its operational facilities.
He said from an estimated annual passenger capacity of 200,000 over four decades ago when the airport was built, its facilities has remained over stretched to the current eight million passengers.
Such mismatch, he said, does not portray Nigeria as a country planning for the growth of its aviation industry.
The minister faulted the airports remodelling exercise carried out a few years ago for over 13 terminals, insisting that the $500 million loan secured from the Chinese Import Export Bank and the Federal Government’s N100 million counterpart funds, should have been deployed only to fix the Lagos and Abuja Airports as major hubs.
Sirika said splitting the funds into many airports in Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu was responsible for the delay in completing the entire projects.
He said it was incumbent on government to give attention to MMIA as the busiest airport in the country, which should be developed as a regional hub within Africa and other parts of the world.
The minister said attention would be given to MMIA as part of government’s plan to develop an aerotropolis, where airports play key roles as enablers of economic development.
Sirika said government was not backing down on its planned concession of airports, because it had since realised that available public funding cannot intervene on gaps in existing airports.
To fill the, gap, Sirika said government was convinced that private sector funding through concession and other funding models would assist to develop airports to enviable standards.
He said the Federal Government will not hand over any airport to state governments, which he said, do not have the financial wherewithal to run such facilities.
Sirika said: “We will not hand over any airport from one tier of government to another. Rather, we will hand them over to private investors with proven capacity to undertake such tasks as it has been done in many parts of the world.”
Also speaking, Former Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma, said the massive repairs on the MMIA will be carried in two phases.
Dunoma said it will not disrupt flight operations.
He said: “The tear down will not in any way affect flight operations. It will be carried out in two phases to allow for flight operations. This will only happen after the new terminal scheduled to be completed this year is open.
“I cannot at the moment determine how long the exercise would take in terms of months. We will shut down a section of the airport and work on it, before moving to the other section.