Photograph — FAAN

In a bid to revamp Nigeria’s aviation sector, the federal government has resolved to a substantial approach to upgrade two of its international airports – the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos, and the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu.

During the 2019 Stakeholders’ Forum in Lagos last week, Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of state for Aviation revealed that plans have been concluded to demolish the MMIA in order to reconstruct it to a befitting facelift. Noting that the cost of rebuilding the airport is projected at N14 billion, the Minister emphasised that the dilapidated outfit has been overused and is due for reconstruction.

The Minister also pointed out that the terminal was built to handle 300,000 at inception but the passengers it handles has grown to 8 million in the past three years. A provisional arrangement has been made to ensure uninterrupted flight operations in what is known as the busiest international airport in the country. Before the reconstruction begins, Airlines will be moved to the new terminal being reconstructed.

“We have concluded on plans to relocate airlines from their original place to the new terminal we are building. We are going to rebuild the MMIA terminal and the contract will be awarded to Julius Berger at roughly N14 billion. The Managing Director of FAAN just told us that the new terminal under construction will be completed before the end of this year. Airlines will move to the new one while we begin the reconstruction of the old MMIA,” the Minister highlighted.

The move is significant for Nigeria, considering that African aviation has always been criticised as a result of uncompetitive and worn out facilities. Given that the MMIA accounts for most of the country’s international flights, it is commendable that the government has moved to address these inefficiencies that hamper the country’s spotlight in the aviation scene.

In a similar vein, the federal government has concluded that downgrading the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu is a feasible option to prevent disastrous incidents associated with unfit airports. Last year, it was reported that some pilots operating flights to the Enugu airport called the attention of the concerned authorities to the ramshackle runway, which they described as a death trap. Later in the year, the South-East Governors Forum (SEGF) raised alarm over the bad condition of facilities at the airport, declaring it unsafe.

Furthermore, the economic contribution of the aviation industry cannot be overemphasised. According to the minister, the sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP  has increased to about $900 billion. With adequate infrastructural development, the nation will also make itself more attractive to investors. From a passenger’s perspective, it is common knowledge that if you are flying you would want to trust the airline and the airport that you are using. Hence, these latest improvements in the country’s aviation space bring about more confidence in terms of travel experience and investment opportunities.

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