Endless Wait for New Airport Terminals

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Recent reports from Arcaid, Architects and Environmental Consultants on behalf of the federal government revealed that the four new terminals at the four major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano are encumbered by structural defects, thus they would not be put in use in 2018 as earlier planned.

The consultants also said that many facilities that would dovetail the new terminals to the existing ones for seamless passenger facilitation are lacking and providing them would cost about $500 million (about N1.8 billion).
THISDAY however gathered that the Federal Executive Council (FEC), has approved additional cost and this was included in the 2018 budget.

Feelers from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are that the terminals might not be ready by the end of 2019, so it would be about four years behind the projected 2015 completion date following the commencement of work on the projects in 2013.

Arcaid also revealed that the new terminals built at the cost of $600million (N2.16 billion) are inadequate for targetted passenger traffic and also lacked essential facilities.

The terminals located at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano and the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa are being built by a consortium of Chinese companies led by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

The project was funded by the Chinese government at the cost of $500 with counterpart fund of $100 million paid by the federal government.

The money, which was obtained in 2012 from the Chinese Exim Bank led to the commencement of construction at the terminals in 2013. Five years down the line, work is yet to be completed in the terminals in 2018; although almost all of them are at advanced stages of completion.

Details of the report showed that adequate feasibility study was not carried out before locating the terminals at the area of the Abuja and Lagos airports where it obstructed the fire service and the control tower respectively.
The studies also revealed that essential facilities that were absent in the new terminals include landside link, which ought to link the new terminal to the old, drop off canopy, access roads, apron and taxiway, water treatment upgrade and power improvement equipment,
The company that carried out the studies therefore recommended urgent construction of the new fire station, power upgrade and sewage upgrade and the link between the new and the old terminals, which is said, must be completed before the new terminals could be cleared to become operational.

The report also disclosed that the construction of the terminal was hurriedly done without proper study on the location of the facility and that explained why the one located at the Lagos airport was built at the area it blocked the control tower and on top of electricity cables, which gave rise to constant power outages at the airport.

In addition to other recommendations, the consultants also recommended that “the connections between the existing terminal building and the new terminal building be done as soon as possible to enable the airport function as a potential hub”, noting that the needed facility was out of scope of the project at conception.

In a recent interview with THISDAY the Managing Director of FAAN, Saleh Dunoma, while pointing out these limitations, expressed optimism that the agency and federal government would intensify action to ensure that the terminals were completed. He projected that some of them might come on stream by end of this year and others by early next year.

But THISDAY learnt on Tuesday from FAAN officials that lack of funds may stall the provision of additional facilities to make the terminals operational.

“The timeline may not be correct because currently there is no apron to link the terminals to the runway. For the terminals to be ready, other facilities must be ready, so we need to have additional power supply, water system, connectivity between the old and new terminals. You cannot be sure that we will get money from the 2018 budget until the money is made available,” said a FAAN official.

Industry observers posited that the terminal at the Lagos airport, sited at a wrong place is blocking the control tower and must be pulled down and rebuilt before the terminal could become functional. They reasoned that the other side of the existing terminal, where it was initially planned to be built, would have been the best location for the project.

But that location has been a subject of controversy for several years because it was given out in concession to Chief Harry Akande to build hospitality facility but was later revoked by FAAN, forcing the legal luminary to go to court.

But Chief Harry Akande once told THISDAY that if FAAN and the federal government had approached him, he might have considered giving them that land and deplored the way the agency and government went about using force to wrest the land from him, which explained why he approached to court.

As passenger traffic continues to grow at the major airports where these terminals are located, it is hoped that one day Nigerians and other airport users would someday benefit from these facilities.