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Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), has reacted to the protest march against the Federal Government’s proposed concession of Lagos and Abuja airports by some stakeholders in the aviation industry, during which they carried banners, pointedly accusing the company of preparing to take over the airports in collaboration with the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), without following due process.
A statement by the Head, Corporate Communications of BASL, Steve Omolale, said: “Ordinarily, we would have ignored this selfish, unwarranted and provocative accusation but as the operators of the first successful, privately-funded, Design, Built, Operate and Transfer (DBOT) airport terminal in Nigeria, the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), and as a responsible corporate citizen, we must state categorically our position for the benefit of the discerning public who have been supportive of our efforts over the last decade and particularly for all those who yearn for serious improvements in aviation services and infrastructure in the country.
“It is a known fact that over the last 10 years, the multiple award-winning MMA2 terminal, which has been adjudged as the best by various organisations, prominent Nigerians, the international community and most recently by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, who enthused at the last Aviation Round Table (ART) that, ‘if MMA2 is a mistake, let the mistake be replicated all over the country’, is an evidence of how the private sector can change the narrative of our aviation sector as is the case the world over.
“Our superlative performance and pioneering efforts at MMA2, where we have consistently ensured that there is no total blackout in the last 10 years; where we have the capacity to facilitate four million passengers per annum with appropriate technology and continuous introduction of new innovations, such as self-service check-in kiosks, automated access gates and a Baggage Reconciliation System and where, though we are still grossly under-utilized, we currently handle about 50 flights daily to various destinations in Nigeria, attest to our competence and experience in airport terminal operations.”
According to Omolale, “if indeed there is any truth in the statements credited to the these protesters, we would like to assure the public that BASL is prepared to demonstrate again what it has achieved so far at MMA2, if given the opportunity to operate the airports being proposed for concessioning, because it is now very clear that only the private sector has the capacity to provide the needed infrastructure and technical know-how to help the Federal Government achieve its laudable objectives for the much-needed progress in the aviation industry.
“The aviation industry obviously needs to be revamped to bring the services and infrastructure standards to what is comparable elsewhere in the world with a clear focus on passenger facilitation and comfort all over the country. With our track record and experience at mma2, we are unequivocally committed to this objective and entitled to the option of first refusal for the airports being proposed for concessioning.
“Countries in Europe, especially Great Britain, which pioneered the idea of PPP in 1992 with its Private Finance Initiative (PFI), and even up to the United States of America, have since embraced the idea, and they are better for it today. Many developing countries are also embracing the model because of its numerous advantages and Nigeria should not be left behind.
In fact, the Jamaican government published the initial Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy documents, popularly called PPP3 in 2012, which has led to the government divesting its large interests from the Sangster International Airport.
“We, therefore, wish to enjoin well-meaning Nigerians and even those protesting against the decision to concession the airports that rather than oppose this arrangement, in the interest of national progress, they should request and ensure a guarantee of total transparency of the new process for the aviation industry to reap the full benefits of PPP, and of course, having pioneered this initiative successfully in Nigeria, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited should definitely not be left out.”