The Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) has revealed that plans have been perfected to demolish the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, in order to reconstruct it. This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadii Sirika, at the 2019 Stakeholders’ Forum in Lagos
The Minister disclosed that the reconstruction of Murtala Muhammed International Airport has become important due to the poor state of the terminal, which has outlived its usefulness. According to Sirika, The terminal was built to handle 300,000 at inception but the passengers it handles have grown to 8 million in the past three years.
Cost of Reconstruction: The Minister stated that the reconstruction would gulp N14bn in order to give the busy Airport a befitting facelift. Recall, that the Airport recorded the highest traffic of travellers in Nigeria so far in the first quarter of 2019. In the meantime, before the reconstruction begins, Airlines will be moved to the new terminal being reconstructed to continue operations.
“WE HAVE CONCLUDED ON PLANS TO RELOCATE AIRLINES FROM THEIR ORIGINAL PLACE TO THE NEW TERMINAL WE ARE BUILDING. WE HAVE ARE GOING TO REBUILD THE MMIA TERMINAL AND THE CONTRACT WILL BE AWARDED TO JULIUS BERGER AT ROUGHLY N14 BILLION.”
The Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) also disclosed that Airlines will be moved to the new terminal under construction which is expected to be completed before the end of this year.
Enugu runways to be shut down: The Minister further revealed plans have also been concluded to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu or shut it down for runway rehabilitation. Sirika explained that the decision to shut down the airport was taken to enable the FG to work on the airport runway to avoid any major incident.
“WE MAY DOWNGRADE ENUGU AIRPORT IN TERMS OF ITS STATUS AS AN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. THE RUNWAY IS TERRIBLE. I HAVE BEEN THERE THREE TIMES, SEEN THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE AND TOLD THEM WHAT TO DO BUT NOTHING HAS HAPPENED.
“THERE ARE A MARKET AND AN ABATTOIR AT THE SIDE OF THE RUNWAY AND THESE ATTRACT BIRDS. OF RECENT, AIR PEACE SUFFERED A BIRD STRIKE AND THIS AFFECTED THE AIRLINE, THANK GOD THERE WAS NO MAJOR INCIDENT.
“WHEN THE GOVERNMENT WANTED TO EXPAND THE RUNWAY TO 60 METRES LONG AND 71 METRES WIDE, THERE WERE FEW HOUSES THERE AND WE WERE PROMISED THAT THEY WOULD BE DEMOLISHED AND THE OWNERS COMPENSATED SO WE CAN HAVE THE IMPROVEMENT BUT NOW THEY HAVE BUILT MORE HOUSES. ENUGU WOULD HAVE TO BE CLOSED DOWN; THAT IS THE HONEST TRUTH.”
The Muritala Mohammed International Airport is believed to be have been modelled after Amsterdam’s Schipol. Unfortunately, it has been described as having outlived its usefulness, no thanks to bad management by the authorities involved. In the meantime, the facelifting of the airport is a long overdue and welcome development.
On the other hand, it has been revealed that the dilapidated state of Enugu Airport has become a source of concern to pilots. Last year, it was reported that some pilots operating flights to the Enugu airport called the attention of concerned authorities to the dilapidated nature of the runway, which they described as a death trap. Later in the year, the South-East Governors Forum (SEGF) raised alarm over the bad condition of facilities at the airport, declaring it unsafe.