With an outlandish expenditure of N174bn, the government had aimed to bring the nation’s airports at par with their counterparts in the developed world, but passengers who use the busiest of the facilities in Lagos are not impressed with the work done so far, UDEME EKWERE of the Punch writesPassengers who regularly use the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos are not impressed with the state of facilities at the nation’s gateway despite the multi-billion naira remodelling carried out on the airport and others across the country.
The passengers are particularly not happy because of the high level of discomfort they are experiencing at the edifice.
It was gathered that some of the new facilities were no longer functioning properly, while others had falling into a state of disrepair.
For instance, passengers complained that the air-conditioning system at the arrival hall of the MMIA now worked abnormally, and that visitors coming into the country were being confronted with embarrassing heat at the lounge and up to the immigration point.
They also alleged that some parts of the roof were leaking, especially whenever it rained.
The recently fixed toilets, the passengers lamented, had become faulty as those, who wanted to make use of the conveniences, were being confronted with unpleasant sights.
Some of the passengers, who spoke in separate interviews with our correspondent, decried the failing facilities at the airport, adding that it was too soon for it to be in a bad shape after the much touted remodelling.
They said that having spent huge sums of tax payers’ funds to restructure the airport, it should not be uncomfortable for users.
A passenger, who just returned from Dubai, Mr. Isaac Femina, said he was disappointed that some of the facilities at the airport were returning to their old state.
He said, “I really don’t know why things do not work well in this country. It has not been long since we were talking about the huge amount of money spent on remodelling the airport; and now, you’ll notice that some facilities are not in proper working order.
“For example, the walkway belt, the one that propels you to move faster at the arrival lounge is not working anymore; if you get on it now, it is as if you are just walking on the bare floor. This should not be; it is too soon.”
Mr. Kunle Stephen, a businessman who shuttles between Lagos and the United Kingdom, said apart from the fact that there were some spots where the roof was leaking, the air-conditioning units around the luggage area were not working well.
Stephen said, “It is quite unfortunate, because you just see on paper that so much has been spent on repairs yet it doesn’t seem like anything is working. Imagine the ACs that should be the first thing that should work well are not. The other day, it was raining here in Nigeria when we got in and some parts of the roof were leaking! To say the least, I was embarrassed.
“To make matters worse, I came to Lagos with my spouse sometime last month and she had to use the toilet on arrival. But she ran out a few seconds later, saying she would manage till we get to town, because the whole place was leaking and there was water on the floor; it is really sad.”
Another passenger, Mrs. Toluwalase Jacob, said that even though she was a little impressed by some of the noticeable changes at the airport, she hoped the issue of the air-conditioning system would be sorted out soon.
She said, “Well, I think there have been some improvements with the work that has gone on here, because when I came in to Nigeria from London late last year, the situation was really terrible.
“It seems a little better now, but I hope they will look into the issue of the air-conditioning system so that the air will not feel so polluted all the time.”
A top official of the Aviation ministry, who did not want his name mentioned because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, said that it was not unusual for some of the infrastructure to wear out after a while, because of continuous usage.
He said, “Of course, you can’t expect the facilities to remain just the way they were because people are making use of them every day, and you know that some people are not very careful in their handling of public property.
“Also, it is important for you to know that the work is not done yet at the airport; it is still ongoing; there are still a few things that need to be put in place, and when it is done, I am sure that the passengers and airport users will be more comfortable than they are at present.”
Commenting on the development, the spokesperson, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Yakubu Dati, said some construction work was still ongoing at the airport, which could have accounted for some of the difficulties that passengers were experiencing at the moment.
He said that on completion, users of the airport would not face as much inconvenience as they were currently encountering.
Dati said, “We are constructing the upper walkway at the arrival hall and the leakage is due to the construction work at the upper deck. When completed, the upper and lower decks will serve the arriving and departing passengers, respectively.
“That way, arriving and departing passengers will not meet as is presently the case. We apologise for the inconveniences this is causing.”
Over N174bn has been spent by the Federal Government on airport remodelling across the country in the last three years.
Following the removal of the former Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah, there had been fears that the projects, which she initiated, would be abandoned due to inadequate funding.
However, the then Supervising Minister of Aviation, Dr. Samuel Ortom, had assured Nigerians that the ministry was making adequate efforts to ensure that the projects were completed within the stipulated period.
He had said, “I want to assure Nigerians that the projects will be completed. The projects are part of the aviation master plan dully approved by the Federal Executive Council. Every single project that was started in the phase one, two and three of the remodelling plan will be completed. It is a matter of stepping up our revenue generation.
“We have massive opportunities and if we are able to close the gap, we will generate enough revenue, and with additional funding from the Federal Government, we will execute the projects. I want to allay the fears of Nigerians that the projects won’t be abandoned. The debts and commitment are there but you can see the massive work going on in the aviation industry today.
“That justifies the N174bn debt. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and there is no way we think we can generate this money within a week. But we intend not to embark on new projects so we can concentrate our energies and ensure we complete the projects started by my predecessor.”[Punch]