Posted by THE GUARDIAN on
GOING by indications from the Aviation Minister, Mallam Isa Yuguda yesterday, the Federal Government may revoke the N2.67 billion contract awarded for the re-construction of the burnt domestic Terminal-One of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
The minister also announced yesterday that in the next few weeks, domestic airlines would be flying on some international routes while a new flag carrier is expected to take-off before the end of the year.
The contract for the new airport terminal was given to Stabilini Visinoni on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis after an initial contract with Royal Sanderton Ventures Limited was similarly terminated on account of non-performance.
Yuguda, who undertook an unscheduled inspection of the site yesterday, said if at the expiration of the contract next month the company is still unable to complete the project, his ministry would then come up with its own position.
A visit to the site indicated that Stabilini Visinoni was yet to do a tangible job on the site, prompting the minister to decry the slow pace of work.
Yuguda said: "Nigerians are expecting a new domestic terminal. The President is anxious to see to the completion of this project. Nigerians are waiting for this terminal and also all of us who are involved in this project. They should tell us if they do not have the capacity to carry on this project. They assured us that they will deliver at the appointed time."
He explained that his ministry was entering into discussion with the contractor.
His words: "We are discussing with them and in the next few weeks, if they don't meet up with our requirement, I believe we should be able to sacrifice for our nation, even if it means to give up our lives, so that we can truly have this project."
The Chairman of Stabilini Visinoni, Mr. Wale Babalakin, was conducting Yuguda round the site when the Minister asked: "After escavating for 18 months, how long will it take to build?
"I came here in August, the same excavation and the same story was what I heard that you will do something within three months, but up till now, you are still excavating."
Delivering a keynote address at an aviation seminar held at Le Meridien Eko Hotel in Lagos, Yuguda said President Olusegun Obasanjo has approved a phased programme for establishing a new flag carrier within six months.
His words: "Following the liquidation of Nigeria Airways, I have made concerted effort to establish a new flag carrier for Nigeria. It is common knowledge that two separate exercises undertaken to establish a new carrier were shrouded in controversies. In order to ensure transparency and durability in the exercise, Mr President has approved a phased programme for achieving this goal within 180 days.
"Associated closely to the establishment of an airline is the need to designate domestic airlines to operate some international routes. Efforts have also been made to complete the exercise within the next few weeks."
He added that the government has approved a roadmap and strategies for implementing the missing gaps in the aviation sub sector.
Also speaking on the N12.4 billion the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is owing contractors, Yuguda stated that the ministry was actually concerned about it, adding that he had instructed the new Managing Director of FAAN, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Baba, to set up a committee to look at the arrears of contracts and the kinds of jobs that were implemented as contracts, whether they were actually genuine or fake, or they were over-invoiced.
He said: "At the end of the day, anybody that has been involved in this type of scam or any kind of fraud, either in the issue of the contract or either in the management of the accounts; if there are some fraudulent things we discover, certainly government cannot be short changed, and if found guilty, they would be made to refund what they have stolen, that I assure you."
The minister disclosed that he had discussed with President Olusegun Obasanjo on a master plan that would sustain the aviation industry in the next 25 years.
Unfolding the master plan, Yuguda stated that the ministry was working to make Lagos and Nigeria in general, the aviation hub for the entire African continent.
He added that the hanger project also ranked amongst the first priority of the government, which among other things would make investors to come to the country.
The hangar project he said would be comparable to anyone in the world, adding: "Once we have the hangar on ground, our aircraft will be serviced here."
The domestic terminal one, was razed by fire on May 10, 2000, and on February 9, 2001, the project was awarded by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to Royal Sanderton Ventures Limited, a company with Canadian links, on a 10-year BOT.
But at the expiration of the 18 months deadline for the completion of the project, the Federal Government through FAAN revoked the contract after receiving the nod of President Obasanjo.
Making a formal hand-over of the site to Stabilini, the former Managing Director of FAAN, Alhaji Ibrahim Mamman, had said that the construction company was the first runner-up to Sanderton when bids were submitted for the terminal's construction in 2001.