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- Claims, counter claims over MMA2 concession persist
Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, operators of the ultra-modern Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) have called on stakeholders in the aviation industry to encourage Bi-Courtney and other private investors and developers to save the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from itself and its abysmal management of airport infrastructure.
The company alleged that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) through its actions has consistently breached its obligations in the concession agreement and has caused Bi-Courtney a loss of over N250B.
This is coming as the airport manager debunked claims by an online medium alleging that MMA2’s 12 years term was about to expire with government planning to take over the terminal.
The company further stated that the fictitious claim of alarm and panic causing instability amongst Bi-Courtney staff bears no iota of truth and is absolutely non-existent.
To them, Bi-Courtney remains a key employer of labour in the aviation industry committed to providing an environment for strong corporate health without fear, pressure or prejudice.
The MMA2 is the first Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative in the history of Nigeria’s aviation, anchored on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement. The decision to concession the terminal was a corollary of an inferno that gutted the terminal and prompted the then government of President Olusegun Obasanjo to invite private developers to rebuild it.
It would be recalled that the BASL came second during the bidding process, but the responsibility of rebuilding the terminal fell on Bi-Courtney, a subsidiary of Resort Group, chaired by a business mogul, Dr. Wale Babalakin. Massive investment went into the terminal, which was commissioned with glitz and glamour by Obasanjo.
Other than the glamour of the commissioning, the MMA2 concession has had to contend with seemingly intractable controversy shortly after the expiration of Obasanjo’s tenure.
While the BASL argues that by the concession agreement, all domestic flights emanating from Lagos airport, including the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) where Arik Air operates from would be handled by the company, the authorities resisted the move.
For over a decade, the BASL and FAAN have engaged in a running battle over the concession. Several court cases, up to 30, were filed and the crises drag on.
Bi- Courtney also went ahead to invest in regional operations, but up till now, the terminal was never allowed to operate regional flights, even though some of the airlines operating from the terminal fly to Ghana and other West African countries.
Setting the records straight, spokesperson of Bi-Courtney, Eniola Ade-Solanke disclosed that it entered into a Concession Agreement with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for the Build, Operate and Transfer of the MMA2 for 36 years, describing the terminal as the most well designed and run terminal in the country operating on very limited revenue.
She stated that the clear provision of the concession agreement between Bi-Courtney and the Government upholds the operation of the MMA2 terminal for an undisputed period of 36 years.
She disclosed that since inception, FAAN has not complied with the agreement to handover the GAT which is a property of Bi-Courtney.
Her words, “The erroneous claims against the Chairman of Bi-Courtney in making frantic efforts in the Presidency to frustrate a takeover of the terminal is not unconnected to purported attempts to stir up a false sense of alarm and acrimony against the concession. The appropriate thing is to encourage Bi-Courtney and other private investors and developers to save FAAN from itself and its abysmal management of airport infrastructure”.
Explaining how Bi-Courtney won the bid to build the terminal at the cost of N36 billion, Ade-Solanke said FAAN offered it a 36-year lease in a letter dated October 12, 2006 and an agreement was duly signed on 2007 by the Minister of Aviation.
The agreement, she reiterated was further confirmed at a meeting on July 7, 2009 chaired by the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – Late Mallam Umaru Musa Yar’adua, in attendance with the Minister of Aviation, Secretary General to the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation / Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance, MD/CEO of FAAN and the Chairman of Bi-Courtney amongst others.
She reassured all air operators and the travelling public of its commitment to providing first class service and maintaining the highest standard of professionalism through continuous investment in power generation, critical infrastructure development, passenger facilitation and modern technology in the aviation industry.
“As operators of the most efficient airport terminal in the country today, the safety, security and comfort of our users and personnel continue to remain top priority for us at MMA2”, she added.