….Say FG Cannot Afford To Abandon Edifice
The Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation , Senator Smart Adeyemi and the Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji have called on the Federal Government to do everything possible to clear all the obstacles that are preventing the controversial Chinese -built Lagos terminal from being commissioned .
This as they posited that the terminal was long over due for commissioning and that such a project should not be allowed to become an abandoned project.
The two National Assembly Committee heads; who were in Lagos for the 25th annual conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) at Sheraton Hotel spoke when they made an unscheduled inspection of the project on the instance of FAAN .
Recall that the new terminal is among the four terminals built under the Nigeria-Chinese $500 million loan agreement signed during former President Gooduck Jonathan’s administration in 2013.
The new terminal at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA),Lagos is built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is among the four others that were built by the CCECC in Abuja,Kano and Port Harcourt through a $500 million loan agreement from the Republic of China, which the Federal Government entered into in 2013.
In the agreement the Federal Government is expected to contribute a total of $100 million as counterpart funding .
Till date , only two of the terminals have been built and operational, a situation that has generated discussions among stakeholders , as to why the two others most especially that of Lagos.
He lamented that despite the fact that the project has long been completed,the multi-billion naira terminal has not been put to use, warning that it must not be abandoned.
Adeyemi contended that nobody would be able to defend why a project that has been completed and that would create jobs for Nigeria has not been allowed to function.
“For me, I think the edifice is 99 per cent completed. It’s something that should be commended. It is also depressing that it seems to have been abandoned. It is not explicable for a project like this not to have been put to use since last year when it was nearly completed.
“We think there is need for FAAN and the federal government to make sure that all obstacles disrupting the takeoff of this terminal building are taken off so that Nigerians can have the benefit of the multi-billions naira that has been expended here.
“I do not think that anyone will be able to defend this. The project has been completed. This must not be allowed to be abandoned. We have had projects of similar types in this country that have been abandoned. If care is not taken, we will see that some of the premises here are becoming bushy, but that is not to say the airport is not well-kept, but the fact that this terminal is not put to use.”
He further called the Federal Government to give us all the assurances that are necessary that terminal will be functional
Buttressing Adeyemi’s point, Nnaji also urged FAAN and the Federal Government to resolve whatever issues that are creating stumbling blocks towards commissioning the project for use.
According to Nnaji the essence of constructing this terminal is to support the old terminal, but because it is not put to use, it is affecting the old terminal.
“To lay credence to what my colleague has just said, I think the Federal Government and FAAN should do something about this terminal so that it will improve the image of the country, create customer comfort. It is also important that the Federal Government does something about the Chinese loan so that this can facilitate the opening of the terminal. There is a need for this terminal to be opened so that you can use it to service the outstanding.
Whether the government is supporting in paying back the loan, it is still the responsibility of FAAN to pay the government the money,” the legislator said..
On the debt, Adeyemi said that he has confirmed that the Federal Government owes the Chinese adding that the Federal Government awarded the contract,should assist the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) to allow the project to take off.
He said that the issue at hand is what the government can handle, adding that if not for depression FAAN would have been able to pay the debt.
According to him, “We don’t want to come back here the next time and still see this building in this shape. It will be painful for us. Even though we are in recess now, we will continue to mount the pressure that is needed to ensure that the federal government gives the assistance that is needed. What is needed to take over this building, I don’t think it’s beyond what the federal government should pay. FAAN should be able to pay if not for depression confronting the industry. Globally, there is depression, fewer people are flying, some airlines have closed shop. So, the IGR has fallen from what it used to be.”
He assured Nigerians that the Senate Committee on Aviation would l continue to mount pressure on the government to do the needful. and that if possible the Red Chamber would put in writing to bring to the notice of the Ministry of Finance that state of the terminal and demands that the Federal Government come to the aid of FAAN to ensure that the project comes alive
Speaking on Avio bridges, the House Committee on Aviation Said, I think according to the plan, there are supposed to be eight avio bridges, but only four can only be used at the moment because the other four can’t be assessed for now, but something has to be done so that the eight can be put to use.”