The airport modernization project initiated by the Federal Government few years ago to change the face of some of the nation’s airports is under threat due to paucity of funds. The airports mostly affected are the ongoing projects at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, (MMIA) Lagos and the Port Harcourt International Airport, PHIA, Omagwa.
These two airports were particularly, identified as the most affected at the weekend when the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Aviation, Mrs. Binta Bello embarked on inspection tour of ongoing projects at the airports. At the power house of the MMIA, Lagos, issues arising from funding came up and the fact that the contractor, Messrs Mantrac Nigeria Ltd had suspended work because it was being owed.
Consequently, some generating plants were not operating as the contractor insisted on reimbursement before he would return to site. At the new protocol lounge near the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) where about 80 per cent of the work had been done, she was informed that the contractor was also being owed, hence work was suspended. Besides, she was told that even as the contractor had suspended work until further payment was made contract for the landscaping of the surrounding was yet to be awarded.
On the other hand contractors handling the construction of the departure and arrival halls of the PHIA airport, Messrs Inter Bau Construction Ltd said work on phase 1 (departure) was between 80-90 per cent completion while work on phase 2 (arrival) “is almost nil.” Chairman of the Company, Sir Nath Okechukwu said told newsmen that the second phase of the project was awarded at the cost of N1.7 billion adding that the last time he received payment for the work was in 2013. “In phase 1, we have done about 80-90 per cent and phase 2 is almost nil. In phase 1, our money got exhausted; we don’t have money, we have to suspend work.
In phase 2, the total sum then was N1.7 billion, but it has gone up though we don’t know how much we are coming up with. “We hope very soon they will make some payments so that we may go back to work. The owner of the project has just finished inspection. When she gets back to Abuja then we will know what she is coming up with,” he said. He assured that “if money is made available, we will deliver the project(s) before the current administration marks its first 100 days in office.” Nevertheless, the permanent secretary said her mission was to see the projects to know the stages of completion in relation to money spent on them so far.