By Ezra Odogu
Lagos State, Nigeria’s hub of commerce, is set to witness a rapid economic growth, as a major remodelling project undertaken by the Federal Government at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) in Ikeja comes to fruition.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, commissioned the newly built international terminal at the international airport, creating a new travel experience for air passengers passing through the Lagos international airspace.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu joined the president to unveil the new MMIA Terminal 2, designed and built under the ambitious rehabilitation programme of the Federal Ministry of Aviation in which 22 federal airports were marked for upgrade and remodelling.
At the occasion, Lagos State Government signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to construct ancillary road infrastructure that will create seamless vehicular connectivity to the airport through Alimosho axis.
The agreement gives legal backing and concession of right-of-way for the construction of a new perimeter expressway to link Shasha Road to the Airport Complex. The development is expected to decongest the existing Lagos-Abeokuta corridor, and reduce journey time in commuting to the airport.
Gov. Sanwo-Olu and Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, jointly supervised the signing of the agreement by the Lagos Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, and the FAAN Managing Director, Captain Rabiu Yadudu.
Other Lagos cabinet members at the MoU signing ceremony included the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye, and Special Adviser on Public Private Partnership (PPP), Mr. Ope George.
Buhari said his administration fully understood the importance of airport infrastructure as a catalyst for economic growth, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and socio-economic development, which informed the Federal Government’s decision to prioritise the completion and delivery of five brand new international terminals, which were at 11 per cent progress level when he assumed office in 2015.
The president stressed that the construction of the new terminal aligned with his Government’s aviation roadmap developed in 2016 for the purposes of establishing critical infrastructure, including a national carrier, Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul Centre and improved airport terminals through concession, to boost aviation practice in line with global standards.
He said: “I am confident that the new terminal, with 66 check-in counters, 16 Immigration desks at arrival, 28 Immigration desks at departure, and eight security screening points, among others, will go a long way in contributing to the socio-political and economic prosperity of our great nation.
“This improvement will increase airport operations and management services to about 14 million passengers per annum, with the attendant positive multiplier effects, by creating about 3,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities for our youths, increase inflow of Foreign Direct Investments and exponential growth in the Gross Domestic Product.”
Sanwo-Olu, who described the delivery of the new air terminal as “long-overdue upgrade” to the nation’s flagship International airport, said President Buhari, by the achievement, had re-written the infrastructure narrative of Lagos, Southwest region, as well as the nation.
The Governor said the construction of Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail Line, upgrade of Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway, full rehabilitation Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and development of a world-class Creative Industries Park in Iganmu were a few of the landmark infrastructure brought to Lagos by the Buhari administration.
He said: “We are very grateful to the Federal Government, under President Buhari’s leadership, for seeing to the completion and commissioning of this brand new international terminal building, almost 43 years to the day the old terminal was built. Finally, our dear Lagos has an international airport terminal that is befitting, and that has the capacity to cope with the fast-growing flow of passenger traffic.
“The new terminal is a worthy complement to the various transportation and road infrastructure projects of the Lagos State Government, such as the Airport Road and flyover which you were delivered three years ago, and the Red and Blue Lines of our Light Rail network, which we are working very hard to deliver on as soon as possible.”
On the infrastructure MoU, Sanwo-Olu said the partnership with FAAN further testified to a new era of productive collaboration between Lagos and the Federal Government, which was not the case between 1999 and 2015.
The Governor said by President Buhari’s commitment, fairness and respectful leadership, Lagos infrastructure story had changed for the better, with the benefits emerging in terms of improved quality of life for the residents.
Sirika said the development of the new terminal was to achieve an efficient and rapid transportation network, which would make Nigeria to remain a key player in the global logistical ecosystem.
Aside facilitating international trade, commerce and tourism, the Aviation minister said improved air services that would be achieved would lead to creation of jobs and boost economy.
In the coming months, Sirika said there would be a partnership with the Lagos State Government on development of rail project to connect the nearby local airport to the new international terminal.
The new terminal is designed as a world-class aviation route, with the capacity to handle 18 million air passengers yearly. Offering best convenience for travellers, the facility was developed on an architectural acreage of 50,887 square metre.
It has 10 Extra-Low Voltage systems, three-dimensional multi-layer baggage sorting system, five arrival and six departure gates, seven boarding bridges, and over 2,000 seat spaces for passengers.
The perimeter expressway will be constructed in four phases across six local councils, with the first phase spanning a 9-km toll road from Shasha to the airport. There will be a toll-free alternative route from Shasha towards Agege Motor Road en route airport.
The second phase of the Lagos-FAAN road project will open the airport to northern connection on Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. Other phases include linkage to Egbe, Isolo, Mushin and Okota roads.
Earlier, President Buhari commissioned Dangote Fertilizer Plant in Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ), and inspected the ongoing construction of Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Complex, and the Lekki Deep Sea Port.