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Uncertainty trails new Abuja airport terminal

By on March 27, 2017

The airport facility is one of four being built with a $600 million loan from the Chinese government by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) as part of the contractual agreement.

The facility, expected to be completed in this quarter, according to the Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, dwarfs the current facility in size and comfort but it is poorly situated. Stakeholders say the decision to hurriedly plant it between terminal B and the general aviation terminal was to score a political point rather than for technical and economic considerations.

The facility in its current location blocks the control tower, has inadequate space for apron hanger, lacks proper sewage and is not linked to the current terminal, which will serve as a domestic terminal once the international terminal is commissioned.

“As per finishing the terminal buildings, it should be before the end of first quarter 2017. However, I have my doubts if they will become operational at the time because they have certain challenges,” Sen. Sirika confirmed Daily Trust’s findings in an exclusive chat recently.

“The terminal in Abuja has no link to the old structure, no apron space provided; the little one that is available is obscured by the fire service. Even if you remove the fire service from there, you will only accommodate at best one large bodied aircraft. Again, there is no sewage, no power etc. So it’s a huge challenge. The building itself is blocking the control tower and the tower has to be moved. So even if the terminal building is complete, it will take time for them to become operational,” the minister said.

He however assured that government “will do everything possible to put them to use as soon as possible.”

Daily Trust investigations had shown that, it could cost the federal government a whopping N4.5 billion to replace or relocate the control tower if a fixed control tower must be used at the Abuja airport.

The Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA) now uses a mobile control tower at the airport.

Checks by Daily Trust showed it may further cost government in excess N1.5 billion if the terminal will be linked to the existing one, build sewages/provide the missing facilities and build a large apron hanger that will accommodate at least 10 aircraft at time.

A former managing director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Roland Iyayi, also queried the siting of the new terminal. “I’m aware that the terminal building is not well located. The past administration was just interested in looking for space at the airport and builds a terminal without looking at the implications. It is obstructing the view of aircraft movements. If you cannot see what the aircraft are doing on ground, it would lead to incursions on ground which is risky. A new control tower would cost the government between $10 million to $15 million – between N3.5 billion to N4.5 billion,” he said.

Also commenting, retired Group Capt. John Ojikutu, a member of the Aviation Round Table queried the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for allowing the structure to stand in the way of the control tower.

“The question is, how did we get here? If things were done properly, we wouldn’t be talking of relocating the tower. By the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) regulation you don’t construct or reconstruct anything within the airport or its premises without the authority of the NCAA including FAAN because of safety and security. So, was the NCAA involved and approved the building? If yes, then we should first sanction NCAA before wasting any money on any control tower,” he said.

When contacted Mr. Muktar Mohammed, the Director, Public Relations and Marketing, CCECC, said he will call back after checking with the relevant authorities but at press time, hadn’t; while the MD/CEO of CCECC, Mr. Jet Li, said he was on leave at the time and unable to respond to the issues.

However, another source at the CCECC who spoke on condition of anonymity said the poor location was based on the decision of the Ministry of Aviation at the time.