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There are indications that the federal government may stop the ongoing remodelling work at some of the nation’s airports because of the high cost of completing the upgrade and expansion of facilities at the 22 airports operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
THISDAY learnt that work on the 11 airport terminals in the first phase of the projects had gone over 80 per cent while some of the facility uplift and expansion had been completed. It was also found out that some others like the Margaret Ekpo International Airport and Port Harcourt were still at about 70 per cent completion, but government may not be inclined to disbursing funds for the second phase of the projects.
Last week, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), George Uriesi, said the federal government had invested $870 million (N139,200,000,000) in airport infrastructure, which includes the remodelling of the terminals and other safety critical equipment.
FAAN sources revealed that a review of the projects cost was relatively lower than “the average cost of such projects in Nigeria as most of the projects will cost less than N1 billion” but because of competing needs, government may not be disposed to earmark more funds for the remodelling programme.
In 2011 the Ministry of Aviation embarked on the remodelling of 11 airports in the first phase of the projects with completion work on the General Aviation Terminals (GAT) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Since then, work has been completed at the airport in Yola and international terminal of Kano airport. Also completed are airports in Owerri, Makurdi, Enugu as well as the international terminal at Port Harcourt airport.
Nigerians are looking forward to the completion of the 22 airport projects.
Although these projects have received a lot of commendation, some Nigerians criticise them, describing them as drain pipes. But passengers, who travel through these airports said they were happy with what government was doing. They however, expressed fears that such lofty programme might not be completed.
When contacted, General Manager, Corporate Communications of FAAN, Yakubu Dati, said it was not true that government wanted to stop the remodelling projects.
“The remodelling project is the poster boy of this administration. It is the remodelling project that gave birth to four new international terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, which construction has commenced. The remodelling of 22 airports simultaneously is a historic feat that has placed Nigeria as a continental player.”
Dati also said that the remodelling programme is an ambitious programme, which well-meaning Nigerians are already applauding. “Government cannot go back from completing the project, no matter the financial challenges because having modern airport facilities is a significant way of moving the industry forward,” he assured.
He added that the projects had already boosted the approval rating of Nigeria by world air transport agencies, remarking that Uriesi was recently elected Vice President of Airport Council International (ACI) Africa.