Airport concession will be ready before December 31, 2022  — FG

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…As FAAN plans to shut domestic Runway of Murtala Muhammed Airport tomorrow

By Matthew Denis Abuja

The Minister of Aviation, Capt. Hadi Abubakar Sirika has disclosed that the ongoing concession of the various airports in the country will be concluded before the end of this year,

He equally stressed that Nigeria Airways will be ready for operation before the end of 2022 year.

The Minister made the disclosure during the ongoing Africa Public Private Partnership Network (AP3N) Investment Summit 2022 organised by Infrastructures Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) held in Abuja yesterday.

This is just as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) may close the 2.7 kilometre 18L/ 36R domestic runway of the Murtala Muhammed Airport ( MMA) to enable it effect installation of the Runway Airfield lighting, which has been absent since the airport’s runway was rehabilitated in 2008.

Furthering his disclosure on concessioning, the Minister who was represented by the Commissioner/ Chief Executive Officer of Accident Investigative Bureau (AIB), Dr. Akin Olateru said, “When we talk about aviation we start with documentation which entails registering a company and we have our team in place and Capt. Dapo Olumide has been appointed as the Acting Managing Director of Nigeria Air with his own team working together.

“The Air Transport License has been issued by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and we are now processing the Air Operation Certificate to start the operation.”

Dr. Olateru stressed that the concession of the airports in the country is almost done and all hands are on deck for it.

He said , “ It’s the process of evaluation of the bill and once they do the evaluation they announce the evaluation then the process is completed.”

He called on the participants of the Summit to always engage and dailogue with policy makers to close communication gaps and fine-tune ways of improving the aviation sector.

“What we are trying to do is to make sure that we get the best for Nigerians which is bringing all stakeholders to share ideas and enhancing better service delivery,” he said.

Earlier, the Director General of ICRC, Barr. J A Ohiani said, “This Investment Summit is coming at a time when the continent is gradually coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which dealt series of blows to investment portfolios and decisions; as well implementation of on-going infrastructure service delivery projects.

“The Pandemic also affected the ability of governments to finance the much-needed public projects, with its attendant record of dwindling revenue.

“Our country was not spared from these challenges; however, there is the growing need to salvage our projects which are under implementation on one hand while developing bankable and viable PPP projects for investment on the other hand.

“The innovative structuring of PPP transactions through globally accepted competitive and transparent processes cannot be over-emphasised; especially as the initiative is in support of our 2021 to 2025 Mid-Term National Development Plan, which projects the use of private sector financing to achieve about 85% of our NGN 348.1 Trillion (about USD 830 Billion) Plan.

“The key in the 21st century is for governments to enhance the investment environment for national level investment for local and foreign investors, and look to innovative financing mechanisms that promote local capital markets, private sector risk, and rely on regulatory systems to balance investor and consumer requirements.”

The Director General noted that with fiscal and budgetary funding constraints plaguing governments across the continent, the cold reality is that private participation in infrastructure is an economic necessity, rather than an optional financing solution, as hitherto considered. Partnership between the public and private sectors for the financing, design, build, maintenance of infrastructure and delivery of associated services is absolutely necessary for Africa governments to meet the need for modern and efficient infrastructure, and for reliable cost-effective delivery of public services.

He stressed that governments all over the world, including the Africa continent, have come to recognise that the collaboration between public and private sectors is crucial to securing dependable and sustainable funding for infrastructure and reducing the pressure on fiscal budgets.

“PPP arrangements have engendered acceleration of infrastructure provision, faster implementation of projects, and reduced whole life costs of projects. Incidentally, appropriate frameworks for PPPs are already in place and activated in most African countries including Nigeria, and these are expected to contribute to addressing the infrastructure deficit and operational constraints.”

According to him, “No doubt, this Summit on financing Africa’s infrastructure through PPP offers all of us the unique opportunity to have the details, the direction, the options, and focus on infrastructure financing , and to share our thoughts, knowledge, and experiences on its key areas with a view to having a better understanding of infrastructure financing and administration to boost the African economy.”

FAAN plans to shut domestic Runway of Murtala Muhammed Airport tomorrow

Similarly, in a related development, sources disclosed that the Murtala Mohammed Runway may be closed totally from Thursday, July 7, 2022 and work will commence without disruptions as normal operations will continue on Runway 18R/36L, the International runway.

The airport managers in a letter signed by Ag. Regional General Manager (S/W) Airport Manager, Arewa Olatokunbo obtained by journalists invited airline operators to an emergency meeting yesterday July 5th, 2022 to determine the pros and cons the closure would have.

The letter titled ‘Proposed Plan for the Closure of Runway 18L/36R’ read in part, “You are invited to an emergency meeting to discuss the closure of Runway 18L/36R for the job completion of the Runway Airfield lighting installation.

“Major works in installation of approach lights, Runway Lights (Threshold and Centre, edge light and others will be installed so that runway 18L/36R returns to full 24/7 operations after 10 years of abandonment.”

Recall, Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, in March 2022 succeeded in getting another N3,523,592,079billion approval for safety-critical projects of the Ministry of Aviation as the Federal Executive Council, FEC, approved the sum of N3,523,592,079billion for two different major projects on facilitation and airfield lighting.

It was reported that of the total amount approved, the sum, N2,329,961,099.60billion was for the supply and installation of airfield ground lighting for the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and also the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.

Managing Director of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu had recently hinted that a solution was in sight as agreements have been reached in principle but the delay was due to the fact that there is an existing contract that has been protracted for years now and government cannot approve a new project when there is an existing one on the same facility.

He said, “18Left has been delayed because of a current contract that has been for many years and finally, the Honourable Minister has graciously accepted to resolve that issue that has been protracted and he has agreed to grant us permission or approval to quickly procure a new lighting system.

“You know FAAN is a government agency; we cannot work and procure a new project when there is an existing one on the same facility. So many things you see that are delayed, are not delayed because of negligence or lack of attention, it’s because you have to follow due process.”