No fewer than seven major projects at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos are currently rotting away, with many of them being subjects of litigation, which have dragged on for about 20 years in various courts across the country. This has prevented progress in any of the projects.
In addition to the litigation, many of the concessionaires and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) have been resorting to unorthodox and illegal means, such as the use of thugs, to resolve disputes and ensure that no party commences construction work on the projects.
One of such projects is the proposed five-star hotel/shoping centre on 50 acres of land at the Murtala Muhammed MMIA. The land was concessioned to AIC Limited, owned by former presidential aspirant, Mr. Harry Amanda, for 50 years by the military government of the late General Sani Abacha in February 1998. However, successive FAAN managements have prevented the concessionaire from commencing construction.
FAAN has repeatedly stated that it is opposed to the construction of the facility because it constitutes a security threat as it is too close to the airport terminal building.
This has been rejected by the concessionaire, led by Mr. Akande, who said many hotels and shopping malls around the world are established close to the terminals without any security breach and wondered why FAAN remains opposed to the construction.
For preventing the concessionaire from going ahead with the planned construction, the Court of Arbitration ordered FAAN to pay a $48 million compensation, an order the agency is yet to obey many years after.
“This is a development that has been consented since 1998. In addition, there is a 50-year lease, which is still subsisting till now. That is not tenable before us because FAAN and other security agencies are on ground at the airport guiding the environment.
“Even if it is too close to the airport, there are some security measures in place by FAAN to ensure total security of the environment. There are airport hotels around the world attached to terminals like at Amsterdam Airport and others,” argued Mr. Akande.
Another project experiencing a similar fate is the suspended four-star hotel/ conference centre being built by businessman, Mr. Wale Babalakin.
Work started on the project,located directly opposite Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), in 2005. But the project has been hobbled by litigation.
The project, which had approached 70 per cent completion by 2012, has faced opposition from FAAN and industry unions, which insist that the projects are illegal, as they were not part of the initial agreement reached with the company.
FAAN also claimed that going by the agreement reached with it, it should have taken the projects over, claiming that Mr. Babalakin breached the seven-year construction agreement reached with his company.
Mr. Babalakin was, however, awarded a compensation of over N70billion by a court, a ruling which has equally been ignored. The case is currently at the Supreme Court awaiting final verdict.
When SaharaReporters visited the two sites last week, the buildings have shown signs of structural failure, with cracks and collapse in many.
Another of such projects is located directly opposite the Murtala Muhammed International Airport terminal. At the time of filing this report, the owners of the project could not be ascertained. It was gathered that the land was allocated for hotel construction, which began almost 25 years ago.
It has also been stymied by litigation, said sources.
Aviation stakeholders are worried expressed that the high number of abandoned projects in the sector is creating a negative impression about the government among b
private investors. They urged the government to effect a change in this regard.