aviation

Construction of Second Runway at Abuja Airport

June 17, 2022

Last week, the federal government handed the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Limited, (CCECC), the construction site of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja second runway.

he Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika disclosed this via a tweet.

It was also disclosed that Federal Capital Territory (FCT) made available a total of 12,000 hectares of land reserved in the land bank allocated for aviation facilities purposes of which the runway is part of and it was projected that the Abuja runway project is expected to be completedwithin the next 12 months.

The Abuja second runway project is part of the many projects under the umbrella of Aviation Road Map, which include the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Centre; Aviation Leasing Company (ALC); Agro-Allied Cargo Terminals; Aerotropolis or Airport City; National Carrier; and Africa Aerospace and Aviation University (AAAU).

In March this year, the federal government approved N92, 123, 175,305.77 for the construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi AzikiweInternational Airport, Abuja.

About how the project would be funded, Sirika said the Buhariadministration would use same pattern it had used in the past to source for funds for all of its other projects across sectors to achieve the new task.

The construction and eventual use of the second runway at the Abuja airport would be a dream come true because the project was mired incontroversy.

About 14 years ago, the project was supposed to cost about N64 billion, which was described as outrageous. Julius Berger was awarded the contract then, but the House of Representatives refused to approve the budget for it, insisting that the cost of N64 billion was prodigal. During the public hearing for the project in 2008, the House Committee on Aviation made comparative analysis of the cost of the project and similar projects around the world and concluded that the cost of Abuja runway project was outrageous.

About 14 years after, the project would cost over N92 billion, about N28billion more than what it was budgeted for in 2008. Industry analysts said that considering the rate of inflation now and the devaluation of the naira, the cost of the project is lower than what it would have cost to build it in 2008.

In 2008 naira was N117. 98 to a dollar, but today it is at the official rate of N419.50 to a dollar. A financial expert and CEO of Direct 2 The Point Limited, Uzodimma Onwuchekwa told THISDAY that taking cognizance of inflationary trends, the N64 billion in 2008 would have been N227.5 billion today, which is N135 billion higher than the cost of N92 billion.

Industry analysts told THISDAY that the cost was deemed outrageous in 2008 and that was the major reason why the project was dropped.

However, the then Aide to the House Committee Chairman on Aviation and currently the Managing Partner, TMSS Logistics, Nuhu Adam gave more details about why the project was dropped.

He said the committee received petitions that the contract was inflated, disclosing that the confusion really came from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), which awarded the contract as design and build. Julius Berger and PW bided for the contract but the amount of money PW said it would use to build the project was lower than the cost contained in the proposal of Julius Berger; yet the contract was awarded to Berger.

“After examining the details of the project, the Committee advised FAAN to split the project into two: one to design and two, to build; so they would be awarded as two different contracts,” Adam recalled.

Although the details of the project approved by the Federal Executive Council in terms of the construction design is yet to emerge, but in 2008, the second runway was planned to be more advanced than the existing runways in any airport in Nigeria, according to former Minister of Aviation, Babatunde Omotoba.

Omotoba in interview with THISDAY said designers of second runway at Abuja airport wanted to build 4.5 kilometers runway.

“The current runway that we have was built in 1982 and that is 31 years old now (as at 2014). It was designed to last for 20 years, it has exceeded its useful life and so we saw the need for a second runway. The second and the old one will have about 1.5 kilometer distance between them, for the 1.5 km, 1.5 by 1.4 km.”

He said that the second runway was very imperative. “The issue of that runway has become very clear to the whole country that a second runway is needed in Abuja because of what happened. We have two in Kano and Lagos and of course Abuja being the FCT and with our efforts at developing it as operational hub for West Africa, it sure needed a second runway.

“The second runaway was conceived and designed to handle Airbus A380-800F with Category three Airfield Lighting (AFL). The length of the planned runway was 4.5 kilometers with a width span of 75 meters and its strip, which should be free from any obstacle on both side should be 150 meters on the two sides. The basic length of the runway is about 3.4 kilometers and because of the altitude of Abuja, about 1000 feet above Lagos; that will add about 267 meters to the runway and because of the temperature too we used 35.6 degree centigrade to design the runway, when you have high temperature it takes aircraft longer distance to stop, that added about 753 meters to the runway,” he said.

Omotoba justified the N64 billion because of the details of what was planned to be done at the runway, but all the runways built in different parts of the world then cost far lower than what Nigeria wanted to build.

While many industry stakeholders said that Abuja airport deserved second runway, the Secretary General and former Commandant of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Group Captain John Ojikutu, disagreed, saying that both Lagos and Abuja airports do not deserve a second runway.

“With the reported annual air traffic figures yearly, none of the two major airports has needs for a second runway. None of the airports can continuously process traffic for more than 12 hours daily. What our airports need is Periodic Maintenance Programmes,” Ojikutu said.

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