About eight years after its scheduled delivery date, President Muhammadu Buhari will, today, open the state-of-the-art terminal at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
The terminal, estimated to be worth over $100 million, is one of the five airports – Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu – that benefited from the 2013 loan deal between Nigeria and China for the building of four new terminals. Port Harcourt and Abuja terminals had been opened since 2018.
The long-awaited facility will complement and create an avenue for the old international terminal to be overhauled. However, this is coming amid stakeholders’ concerns over lack of parking spaces at the new terminal and the rationale behind concessioning of the airport.
Notwithstanding, the Lagos Airport, yesterday, wore a new look in anticipation of the opening ceremony. The new terminal has the capacity to process 14 million passengers per year. It is built on a landmass of approximately 56,000 square metres, and has 66 check-in counters.
Other facilities in the terminal include five baggage collection carousels, 16 immigration desks at arrival, 28 immigration desks at departure, eight security screening points, six passenger boarding bridges (out of which two have already been installed), two food courts, four premium lounges, 22 guest rooms and spa, 16 airline ticketing offices, visa on arrival and port health facility, as well as praying area, more than 3,000 square metres of duty free space, approximately 5,000 square metres of lettable utility space, among others.
The facility is expected to generate about 3,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities for Nigerians, as well as enhance passenger facilitation and comfort.
Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, disclosed that the Authority would also sign a memorandum of understanding with the Lagos State government on the nine-kilometre Airport-Shasha-Alimoso link Road to be constructed by the state.
Apparently, to make space for aircraft parking space around the facility, FAAN has begun demolition of buildings in close proximity, beginning with the regional office of the Accident Investigation Bureau Nigeria (AIB-N).
Other private entities and government agencies that may be affected are Dominion, Evergreen Apple Nigeria, Caverton, ExecuJet hangars, office complex of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and towing companies close to the AIB-N regional headquarters.
But stakeholders are still concerned about the status of the project. Following the concession approval by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), workers’ unions have requested details of the $500 million Chinese loan deal floating the four terminals, especially the add-on plan to concession the terminals.
Government’s response has not come their way. General Secretary of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Ocheme Aba, said there was no clarity on the question of a semi-concession that already exists through the Chinese loan facility.
Aba said: “Equally important is the loud silence over the issue of primacy of national security, especially at this time and the foreseeable future. They failed to situate issues within the national security architecture, the potential fact of the four foremost international gateways being held in private, most likely foreign hands.
“We hasten, though, to let it be known that we are unambiguously strewn to the national cause and the genuine interest of the workers of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). We are completely extricated from any narrow or selfish motives. Therefore, we shall remain unwavering in our stated commitment to deny this clandestine Public Private Partnership (PPP) the benefit of daylight.”
A group of former managing directors and directors of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria had warned against a Mezzanine Clause in all Chinese sponsored projects, adding that any contravention of the agreement on the $500 million loan may lead to invocation of the clause and give the Asians right to the infrastructure.