Like the mythical phoenix, the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2), Ikeja, rose on May 2007, from its own ashes of the fire that had destroyed the old Lagos Domestic Terminal in 2000. 10 years on, it has been a success story for the world class terminal built and operated by an indigenous company, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL).
The MMA2 is acknowledged by Nigerian and foreign air travellers as one of the best the aviation industry in Nigeria has to offer in terms of efficiency in service delivery as well as competence in management skills, qualities that have set it aside as the epitome of the relevance of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) policy of the government.
Before its emergence on the aviation scene, the nation’s airports were merely struggling to keep up with the expectations of the ever demanding clientele. Indeed, MMA2 from the beginning installed facilities that hitherto were available only in airports in Europe and America. Those facilities, world class in their design and operability, are before then only available in international airports in its class. With a modern multi-storey car park, retail outlets and cutting edge technology deployed for the ease of passengers, the Common User Passenger Processing System (CUPPS), self-service check-in kiosks, automated access gates and Baggage Reconciliation System set it apart from the rest in the nation’s aviation industry.
Since coming into operation, the management has made it a matter of top priority to provide constant power, escalators and lifts, the latest check-in-system and its own cargo shed. MMA2’s commitment to quality service, has earned for it several local and international awards.
Management experts assert that excellence can be easy to attain. What matters is maintaining that status. It is in this context that we commend Nigeria’s model terminal as it has proved that it can be done in its one decade of existence. This development, we note, further affirms the notion that much more can be achieved when government and the private sector cooperate synergistically. The nation, Nigerians in general and aviation services consumers in particular, will be better served in the process. Evidently, MMA2 the country’s first successful Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) has set a pace that can only be emulated and equalled.
However, it is sad, in our opinion, that despite Bi-Courtney’s achievements including contributing to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by providing gainful employment for thousands of Nigerians, improving the skill-set of workers and preventing capital flight, it has not been 10 easy years. The company has had to contend in those years with some negative aspects of officialdom that are capable of discouraging future participation in the PPP model.
In this prevailing scenario, part of the concession agreement that all local flights from Lagos would originate from the MMA2 has hardly been adhered to. The General Aviation Terminal (GAT), at the old domestic airport, from which local flights also originate, is against the spirit and letter of the PPP because it is in direct competition with the concessionaire that has successfully weathered deliberate efforts to get the concession revoked without any basis. These actions, expectedly, have resulted in Bi-Courtney losing money and struggling to fulfil its obligations to creditors that provided the facilities for constructing the terminal.
There is no gainsaying it that the aviation industry is a capital intensive one and with the current economic recession, government is struggling to maintain its current infrastructure while it cannot embark on new projects to further develop the sector. This is where the private sector, with its business savvy and access to capital comes in. But we daresay that with the current travails of Bi-Courtney, which patriotically came to Nigeria’s aid in a crisis period, other private investors will think twice before committing the kind of humongous resources that Bi-Courtney had invested in Nigeria.
Therefore, if Nigeria really intends to become West Africa’s aviation hub, it is pertinent that government officials and representatives must cultivate the habit and principle of honouring agreements and covenants legally signed, even when the covenants predate the appointments of the government officials concerned. It aligns with the dictates of equity and justice.
Regardless, as MMA2 marks its first decade of operations, it is incontrovertible that it has raised the bar in aviation service delivery and increased the confidence level of customers through the safety and comfort of its infrastructure. Given its immense contributions to the country’s aviation sector, we wish MMA2 and its management success in their endeavour and hope that by its sterling examples, other Nigerians will be encouraged to take advantage of the PPP policy.