Nigeria’s debt stalls $500 million China funded Lagos airport terminal

  • Project delay worries National Assembly, seek urgent solution

 

 

There are indications that the delay in the completion of the multi-billion Naira new terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos has stalled over Nigeria’s alleged delay in implementing its own part of the loan deal from China for the projected which has reached 90 per cent completion stage to be put to use.

Despite the promise which the project holds for commercial flights in Nigeria’s dominant economic centres, uncertainty surrounded the immediate completion and future sustainability of these airport terminals.

It would be recalled that the $500 million loan for the five airport terminals was part of a bigger $1.1 billion credit facility obtained from the Export and Import Bank of China for the building of critical infrastructure that includes the Abuja Light Rail and the Galaxy Backbone ICT projects.

Both Chinese-funded aviation and rail projects are being executed by CCECC, a symbol of Beijing’s growing influence in Africa.

The chairmen, Senate and House of Representatives committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi and Nnolim Nnaji stated this when they paid an unscheduled visit to the Lagos airport  to see the state of aviation and airport infrastructure, remarking that the edifice is 99 per cent completed, wondering why the project appeared ‘abandoned’ when work was almost done.

The terminal completion date had been shifted severally, leading to concern that the facility still had to undergo a lot of work.

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Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal…Still under construction

The new International airport terminal is still under construction at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. The project is funded through counterpart financing from the China Eximbank.

FAAN had repeatedly said that once the new terminal opens, the old international terminal which has served passengers, airlines and other airport users for more than four decades would be shut down for total rehabilitation, adding that after completion of major works, the two terminals would be put to use to ease congestion and help in seamless processing of travellers.

With a $500 million loan from the Export and Import Bank of China, five airport terminals at its principal aviation hubs were under construction by the China’s CCECC.

Apart from the international terminal at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, the other international terminals under construction are in Abuja, Enugu, Kano and Port Harcourt. Abuja and Port-Harcourt terminals had since been completed.

The Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja is projected to serve 16 million passengers annually, up from its current capacity of six million.

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 62 million passengers for the nation’s new aviation hubs.

According to Adeyemi, “I just confirmed that the Federal Government is still owes China. The project itself was awarded by the federal government. So, the federal government itself should come to the aid of FAAN so that we can take over this building.

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For me, I think the edifice is 99 per cent completed. it’s something that should be commended. It is also depressing that it seems to have been abandoned. It is not explicable for a project like this not to have been put to use since last year that it was nearly completed”.

 

The terminal

“I do not think that anyone will be able to defend this. The project has been completed. This must not be allowed to be abandoned. We have had projects of similar types in this country that have been abandoned. If care is not taken, we will see that some of the premises here are becoming bushy, but that is not to say the airport is not well-kept, but the fact that this terminal is not put to use. For us, we think there is need for FAAN and the federal government to make sure that all obstacles disrupting the takeoff of this terminal building are taken off so that Nigerians can have the benefit of the multi-billion Naira that has been expended here”.

He however explained that it would be an uphill task for FAAN to meet up responsibility for the repayment of the loan, noting that the Federal Government should intervene so that Nigerians can start enjoying the facility..

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“This is a facility that will further improve the image of Nigeria. Whenever people are visiting your country, what they will first see is the building and it will create an impression of the nation to them. We will continue to mount pressure on the government to do the needful. If possible, we will put it in writing so that the ministry of finance can be aware that we came here and what we have seen demands that the attention of the federal government to come to the aid of FAAN so that this place can be opened”.

Nnaji  stated that the essence of constructing the terminal was to support the old terminal, but seriously affecting the old terminal because of too much pressure on it.

His words, “I think the Federal Government and FAAN should do something about this terminal so that it will improve the image of the country, create customer comfort. It is also important that the federal government does something about the Chinese loan so that this can facilitate the opening of the terminal. There is need for this terminal to be opened so that you can use it to service the outstanding.

 

Wole Shadare