Buhari Opens New Airport Terminal Amidst $69.3m Debt Overhang
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday commissioned the new terminal at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja amidst the yet to be paid counterpart funding of $69.3million to the China Exim Bank.
The Federal Government has only paid 31.1percent of the $100million counterpart fund for the $500million credit facility provided by the China Exim Bank for the remodelling of the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano airports.
Currently, Port Harcourt and Abuja airports have been commissioned while the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) has slowed down the pace of work on the second phase of the remodelling of Kano and Lagos airports.
However, President Buhari, while commissioning the new terminal building, said the Federal Government was developing Nigeria into regional air transportation hub and assuming its leadership in the aviation sub-sector in Africa.
He noted that the new terminal is the first to be connected to rail transport system in the country and indeed in the region, providing airport users with choice in the mode of transport to and from the city centre.
He charged government officials manning the gateways to sustain the momentum and ensure travellers in and out of the country have the best of experience as a necessary complement to the ultra-modern terminal.
The Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the newly commissioned terminal building had capacity to process 15million passengers annually and covered a space of approximately 56,000m2. It also has 72 check-in counters, five baggage collection carousels, 28 immigration desks at arrival and 16 at departure.
Other facilities include eight security screening points, eight passenger boarding bridges, walkway to link the FCT metro rail and additional apron for remote parking of aircraft, among others, that were designed and laid out in accordance with modern requirements for airport operations.
Sirika urged the President to intervene in the payment of counterpart fund owed to the China Exim Bank so that the CCECC can complete the second phase of the airport remodelling exercise, which include provision of additional facilities that would enhance airport efficiency.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has criticized President Buhari for allegedly attempting to claim credit for the terminal, “even when it is public knowledge that the project was designed, conceptualized and fully financed by the PDP administration.”