Fund paucity hinders Lagos airport runway repairs, thieves steal approach lights

  • FG’s directive to MDAs hinders work progress
  • FAAN suspends security personnel over theft

The paucity of funds has slowed down the progress of work on the Murtala Muhammed International Airport runway 18/R; the runway international airlines operate from.

 The contractors handling the project, Aviation Metric learnt left the site because of the non-release of funds which has been made worse by the embargo placed on the spending of many of the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government (MDAs).

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

The directive handed to the MDAs by the government has compounded the problem as all airlines make do with the sole 18/L runway of the Lagos airport.

The Federal Government’s online financial transactions were last month put on hold as Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government grapple with a financial crisis following a presidential directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to place an embargo on their accounts.

The MDAs have been stifled of funds to conduct normal or regular transactions with their vendors. It was gathered that contractors and suppliers of the agencies have not been paid their fees from May end to date.

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The directive was given by the new administration to prevent civil servants, especially interim heads of the MDAs from engaging in sharp practices before substantive ministers are appointed.

The idea is to enable the president to know what he met on the ground and to be able to know where he is taking off from,” the director who should know said.

Just recently, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu gave the directive to conduct background checks on the books of the various agencies for proper accountability.

Even if the runway is fixed, the stealing of approach lighting of the runway under repairs could elongate the duration of work on the project.

 A top official with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) who pleaded anonymity said the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Kabir Yusuf who expressed displeasure over the matter placed many security personnel whose duty is to watch over critical airport facilities on suspension.

The source told our correspondent that even if work was completed, the authority would still need to place an order for approach lightings which could take much longer to fabricate to the specifications of the aerodrome.

“It is true that the project has witnessed some setbacks. The contractors handling repairs suspended work on the project because of funds. It is not that the funds are not there but it is slow in coming. I don’t want to tell you exactly when the project would be completed but it will soon be completed”.

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“Again, the directive on MDAs also played a part but that will soon be resolved soon. We are working towards its completion. Even if we finish the project, the runways still cannot be used because some people stole the approach lighting on the runway. You know this equipment is not bought off the shelf. It has to be manufactured to specification”.

“We placed some security personnel on suspension while we have commenced an investigation on the circumstances leading to the theft of the equipment”, he added.

The FAAN had on March 14, 2023, notified the pub­lic that runway 18R/36L of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, would close for eight weeks for mainte­nance work to be carried out. Taxiway B-18L will be used for all flight oper­ations.

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The closure of runway 18/R happened a few weeks after the Lagos Airport 18/L was reopened early this year when the Federal Government installed airfield lighting for night flight operations more than 16 years after the project was abandoned.

Enugu airport runway

The airport is central to the operations of all domestic carriers. Daily operations begin and end in Lagos for most aircraft. Without runway lighting for night operations, the runway is shut at sunset, forcing the domestic terminal and airlines to wind down operations at dusk — the peak air business globally.

Wole Shadare