Fresh controversy is brewing over the newly commissioned terminal of the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Daily Trust can report.
The controversy, it was learnt, stemmed from the bad design of the airport from inception, which conflicts with the original masterplan of the airport.
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Daily Trust reports that the design defect had stalled the commissioning of the project, which started as far back as 2013 through a concessionary loan from the China Exim Bank and was constructed by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC).
While other terminals including those of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja; Port Harcourt International Airport, Rivers State had been completed, the commissioning of the Lagos terminal was stalled due to design error as the apron was facing the wrong direction.
The error in the design prompted the federal government to order the demolition of several buildings around the MMIA.
A magnificent old building, which used to be the headquarters of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) that was rebuilt and equipped in 2019 was demolished alongside private hangars with investment worth over N5bn going down the drain.
Some staffers of the bureau almost shed tears when they were asked to relocate to Abuja where there is little or no office space or accommodation for them as the new corporate headquarters is still under construction without assurance that it would be completed anytime soon.
Apart from AIB, some other private companies and government agencies like Dominion, Evergreen Apple Nigeria, Caverton, ExecuJet hangars, the office complex of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Road Service Corps (FRSC) and the towing companies close to the AIB-N regional headquarters were affected.
However, despite the demolition, the apron is not wide enough to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft like Boeing 777s, 747s, A380s, Dreamliner, among others.
Airport apron or tarmac is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked.
With the defect, sources said it would be extremely difficult to get major international airlines to relocate the terminal.
A highly placed source in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) confirmed the development, saying this is a major headache that the federal government is trying to fix.
“What you said is very correct about the new terminal. The apron is too short and not wide enough despite demolishing several buildings. And you don’t use small aircraft for international operation so that you don’t start having a quagmire. It is a serious design error,” he said.
Daily Trust reports that the part of the original location of the terminal was near the international runway 18R.
But the location has been embroiled in a legal tussle between FAAN and late Harry Akande who reportedly secured ownership of the land during the tenure of former Minister, Senator Stella Oduah.
Industry observers said an out-of-court settlement with the late Akande would have saved the nation from the current “embarrassment” and a huge sum of money that would be paid as compensation.
Aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu said, “Adjustments of the Avonbridge are definitely needed and an increase in the boarding gates from 6 to at least 12 like the present terminal.”
However, he stated that the commissioning was hurried and this has “some political tones.”
Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Mrs. Faithful Hope-Ivbaze in a chat with our correspondent said there are expansion plans in place to accommodate the concerns.
She said, “You know when you are building your own house, you build and then you expand. There is room for expansion that will accommodate all of this that you are talking about.
“There is going to be expansion. There are expansion plans already. You cannot build this kind of edifice without taking into consideration larger aircraft, it doesn’t make sense.”
According to her, credit should be given to the current administration for completing a project inherited from the last administration.
“People should see the positivity of what has happened and like I said there is room for expansion and the government is mindful of that,” he said.