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Dilemma over aircraft parking space at MMIA new terminal

By Wole Oyebade
18 February 2022   |   4:09 am
Defects in structural design of the new international terminal at Lagos Airport have again reflected in the lack of adequate parking space for operating aircraft.

The MMIA new terminal<br />

Defects in structural design of the new international terminal at Lagos Airport have again reflected in the lack of adequate parking space for operating aircraft.

The new terminal, now scheduled to open in March, may be operated at reduced capacity or have obstructing hangers demolished to widen the parking lots.

Though the latter option is the more appealing of the two, the huge compensation and cost of rebuilding currently worry the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

A visit to the long-awaited terminal showed a completed facility with all the fittings in place and finishing touches ongoing on the exterior. While the avio-bridges and about seven fingers are elegantly positioned, the narrow access path to the last four fingers will be a challenge to wide-body airplanes.

The previous administration had approved the construction of four new terminals for Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano airports in a 2003 China and Nigeria loan deal at $500 million. The projects were handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and ought to have been delivered in March 2015.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had in 2016, faulted the location of the Lagos and Abuja terminals, describing them as wrongly positioned.

Sirika, who was short of describing the projects as a waste of funds, said the new terminal in Abuja alone cost extra N5 billion to relocate the control tower and fire station that were erstwhile blocked by the terminal. Same terminal in Lagos also got in the way of power cables that service the entire airport.

Managing Director of FAAN, Hamisu Yadudu, recently told the National Assembly’s joint committee on aviation that the Lagos terminal was 98 per cent ready and now awaiting official opening latest next month.

Yadudu, on the tour of the terminal disclosed that parking space remains the major constraint, with the Seymour Aviation Car Park on the right, and private hangers on the left.

Some of the hangars that are at the risk of demolition are Dominion and Evergreen Apples Nigeria (EAN), private terminals dedicated to business aviation.

Apparently displeased with the demolition option, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Smart Adeyemi, told FAAN to table the cost implication of such exercise before the two committees for consideration before execution.

Adeyemi said it was unfortunate that the facility was built without consideration for space or compensation for affected investors.

“We are the representatives of the people and we must be sure that the resources of the country are not unduly wasted. We must weigh the options and if the amount to be paid out as compensation does not make sound economic judgment, we will not allow it,” he said.

Adeyemi added that the commissioning of the new terminal was overdue considering that it was built with borrowed funds and that Lagos airport generates over 60 per cent of the authority’s total revenue earnings.

His counterpart in the House of Representatives, Nnolim Nnaji, said rather than spend billions of taxpayers’ money on compensation, “FAAN could restrict the use of the affected fingers to narrow-body aircraft and deploy the money that would go for compensation to the owners of the facilities to the building of additional terminal.”

Nnaji implored the management of the authority to ensure that the new terminal is commissioned as soon as possible to ease congestion at the airport.

Secretary General of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said a lot of unilateral decisions were taken on the airport’s terminal building by the former minister of aviation (Stella Oduah), outside of standard, professional advice and approval of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

As the way forward, Ojikutu said if it is true that N5 billion is needed to compensate for the car park and the hangers, “I think FAAN can conveniently pay them off within a year to create sanity around the new terminal building.”

“The car park is more of a security risk to the terminal building than the hangers. The question to ask the operator of the car park and the NCAA is; is there any security programme approved for the operations of the car park? I doubt it.

“My estimated revenue earnings for FAAN from its projected international passengers and air traffic is sufficient for FAAN to conveniently pay the N5 billion to the car park and the owners of the hangers to avoid the security risk and lack of aircraft parking space,” he said.