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Nine years after work started on a terminal that many said would ease pressure on the existing decrepit Murtala Muhammed International Airport terminal, all is now set for the commissioning of the newly built international terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos slated for tomorrow.
The brand new, international terminal is one of five, being built in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, and Enugu, in a bilateral arrangement between the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the People’s Republic of China.
The ones in Abuja and Port Harcourt had been completed and commissioned already, while that of Kano had been completed and will soon be commissioned.
The new Lagos International terminal, which will be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, has the capacity to process 14 million passengers per annum. It is built on a landmass of approximately 56,000 square metres, and it has 66 check-in counters.
Acting General Manager, Public Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs, Faithful Hope-Ivbaze in a statement said other facilities in the terminal include five baggage collection carousels, 16 Immigration desks at arrival, 28 Immigration desks at departure, eight security screening points, six-passenger boarding bridges (out of which two has already been installed), two food courts, four premium lounges, 22 guest rooms and spa, 16 airline ticketing offices, visa on arrival and port health facility, as well as praying area, more than 3,000 square metres of duty-free space, approximately 5,000 square metres of lettable utility space, amongst others.
She further stated that the new terminal to be commissioned is expected to generate about three thousand direct and indirect employment for Nigerians, as well as enhance passenger facilitation and comfort at the Lagos airport.
The authority would also sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Lagos State Government on the 9km Airport-Shasha-Alimosho link road to be constructed by the State Government.
There are indications that the delay in the completion of the multi-billion Naira new terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos was caused by Nigeria’s alleged delay in implementing its own part of the loan deal from China for the project.
With a capacity for 25 million passengers per annum from the current seven million passengers it presently serves, the international airport in Lagos would retain the lion’s share of the projected capacity of 35 million passengers for the nation’s new aviation hubs.
Nigeria had in 2013 secured a $500 million loan from the China Exim Bank, with the approval of the Chinese government.
The government of Nigeria provided a counterpart funding of $100 million for the projects. The project delay was a result of a funding problem following the negotiation of the project by President Buhari’s government with the Chinese government which facilitated the loan deal for the terminals.
Nigeria and China had had in 2013 signed a $500 million loan pact for the construction of the four new international airport terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, and Kano. The 20- year, 2.5 percent interest loan for the project has a grace period of seven years before payment.
The $500 million terminal buildings in Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, and Kano Nigeria were said to have stalled in their initial plan of completion of the facilities in 18 months, but lack of coordination by the last administration, coupled with delay in Nigeria’s little financial commitment led to delay, according to a source who is conversant with the entire project but pleaded that his identity is shielded.
Since 2015, several completion dates had been set for the terminals’ completion for the Lagos and Abuja aerodrome, being the two airports with the biggest passenger traffic.
While the Abuja and Port-Harcourt facilities had long been completed and put to use, the Lagos terminal dragged on almost endlessly, raising fear that the project may have been abandoned despite assurances by the government that it would soon be commissioned.
Several dates were set for the commissioning of the project as FAAN kept shifting the date until the facility was finally completed.