Posted by Sade Williams
Chairman, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd (BASL), Dr. Wale Babalakin, has decried delay in starting regional operations from the Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal two (MMA2), Lagos, years after being granted approval by government.
While decrying the underutilisation of the terminal built 16 years ago under the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement, he said the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) legally belongs to BASL, adding that even when the terminal has all facilities for regional flights, government authorities have refused to allow it operate.
In May 2007, BASL completed and opened the MMA2 facility under the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The Ministerial Committee on Airport Security had certified the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2, fit for the commencement of regional operations.in 2016.
Following the visit to the facility, the committee, set up by the Federal Government to assess the security situation in all Nigerian airports, expressed satisfaction with the level of security at the terminal.
But the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is yet to grant regulatory approval for the operations after it cancelled earlier approvals twice.
Speaking shortly after inaugurating The Art Experience (Art Gallery) at the MMA2 and the commemoration of the 16 years anniversary.of the terminal, at the weekend, Babalakin urged government to make the country investment friendly for investors by respecting the rule of law.
‘I am alarmed that we have not commenced regional operations because we went through the entire process, we were certified but we’ve not been allowed to take off. Then GAT is still operating illegally because based on the judgement of the Supreme Court, the GAT is part of our facility. I hope that those who have power and in the position of authority will know that you encourage enterprise when you follow the rule of law. Once you follow the rule of law, your country will become an investment destination but if people are looking at us from afar and say what am I going to do here when simple agreement has not been honoured, it’s not good for anybody in the county.”, he said.
The Bi-Courtney boss, who revealed that the MMA2 terminal remains a world class and the best in the country, explained that the best architects were engaged to design the terminal that will stand the test of time.
“The first thing is that it was a deliberate effort. The design was a major assignment, we didn’t just start building, we sat down with the best of architects in the world to design a terminal that will have a flow, it is the flow that has made it easy for people to operate here. You can see the link between the car and the terminal, so you are a not going through a disjointed journey because you want to travel, you can see that from when you come off the escalator, it is a seamless process till you board the plane.
“And you can also see that we have been very disciplined, we’ve disallowed passengers from operating on our tarmac, we find a way of transporting them. We think that it is backward to have passengers walking on terminals because it’s dangerous, it only takes one accident and the county will be embarrassed. I think that there was a lot of deliberate efforts to design an outstanding terminal.” he added.
He revealed that some of the challenges about the terminal operations and agreements are yet to be over, adding that with focus and determination, they would be surmounted.
“We give glory to God, for those of you who were here when we started, you are aware of the enormous challenges we went through, we are still trying to surmount some of them, but we’ve been focused and determined that we will make the best of our situation. So, we thank God for what he has done.”
Speaking on the Gallery newly commissined at the terminal, he said BASL plans to continue to raise the standard of the terminal and offer travellers an experience that is beyond just traveling.
“The mandate I gave to the management is create an environment where people can eat, shop, entertain and in the process fly. It is not an environment where you come and queue in the sun because you want to fly. If you decide to come and fly in MMA2, we have a gallery for flowers, you can buy flowers, have lunch or resolve some communications issues with the companies, you can stay in the Lounge which have internet facilities and do your business. What we have tried to do is to uplift the standards with the hope that anybody who decides to build an airport tomorrow will have all these standards incorporated into their terminals.” he said
On the recent invasion of the airport by members of the Nigeria Labour Congress a d Trade Union Congress, Babalakin bemoaned the action, saying it contravenes labour laws.
“Unions have the right to protest but they must also follow the law, there are principles of law you must follow when you want to protest. As a student years ago, one of the things that was prohibited was secondary picketing, you don’t come and lock me here because you have a dispute with somebody else, if you have a dispute with me, you can do what is right but you can’t say that you have a dispute with another state and you come and block me here. I think we should find time to explain to the unions that they should know that they follow the rules.