By Chinedu Eze

Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) has said the process of the concession, which led to the company taking over the ruins of the former domestic terminal of the Lagos airport to build the money terminal that has remained the best in the country, followed transparent process.

The company recalled that in 2000, after the old Lagos Domestic Terminal was destroyed by fire, FAAN advertised for a Design, Build, Operate and Transfer (DBOT) concession in two national newspapers.

“The federal government conducted a competitive bidding process, which was open to every interested person. Sanderton Ventures Ltd won the bid. The failure of Sanderton to deliver after 12 months, led FAAN to invite Bi-Courtney as reserved bidders to take over the project. The process was in no way shrouded in secrecy. The draft concession agreement was prepared by the Ministry of Aviation’s lawyers, along with FAAN. From 2001 to 2003, there were extensive negotiations between the parties, subsequent to which the agreement reached was approved by the Federal Executive Council,” BASL management explained.

It noted that the assertion that the MMA2 concession was not transparent, could not be further from the truth, adding that the failure of government from the outset to comply with contractual obligations and arbitration proceedings that were set up by government itself led to several litigations over time.

“This failure has been affirmed by arbitration and in court decisions.  This is a sad commentary on the dispute resolution process in Nigeria.

“It is noteworthy that the original design proposed by FAAN was an unconducive shed which was not even fit as a terminal for cargo operations. It was on Bi-Courtney’s initiative that it proposed a more elaborate and modern design. The design has a capacity for four million passengers per annum in anticipation of expanded passenger traffic. This design was approved by the Ministry,” the company said.

It also explained that dealing with the contentious issues arising from the concession requires objectivity, based on empirical evidence, adding that this matter should not be personalized.

“Bi-Courtney is dismayed by the unfortunate impression portrayed in the press that the MMA2 concession was shrouded in secrecy. Bi-Courtney rejects this in its entirety.

The Ministry of Aviation and FAAN seem to have a penchant for pursuing a vendetta and reopening issues that have been resolved on so many occasions, including one chaired by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The company is ready to defend its position at any hearing and will be doing so today, Thursday, October 20, 2016 at the House of Representatives. Bi-Courtney has always stood on the premise of integrity of process and rule of law, in dealing with the provisions of this concession.

“It is regrettable that while trying to provide a world class facility for the public over the years, the concession has been a subject of much contention with FAAN and the ministry.

Bi-Courtney said while it constantly strives to work with government to facilitate the growth of the aviation industry, government has an obligation and responsibility to create a conducive environment for the concessionaire to deliver.

“With each change in government comes a new interpretation of the concession agreement, leading to divergence of opinion. Government should adopt a policy of engagement and respect for contractual agreements in the best interest of the industry, instead of leaving the concessionaire no choice but to resort to potentially acrimonious litigation,” BASL said.