The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission has initiated a process to resolve the concession problem between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, operators of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two, Lagos.
The Acting Director-General of the ICRC, Chidi Izuwah, during a monitoring visit to the MMA2 and the hotel and conference centre on Monday, said the commission was engaging the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, on the challenges and believed that they would be resolved soon.
The MMA2 was awarded to BASL in 2003 as a public-private partnership project on Build, Operate and Transfer basis, but has since been enmeshed in a legal battle following disagreements between both parties on aspects of the agreement, including the tenure.
Izuwah said as a commission saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and ensuring the efficient execution of all PPP projects entered into by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies on behalf of the Federal Government, the ICRC was interested in having an update from the parties on the performance of the related projects and taking steps to resolve the challenges.
He stated, “We want to listen to both parties as an independent regulator; we want to physically assess the situation and challenges on ground in order to better appreciate the positions by FAAN and Bi-Courtney, and thereafter suggest possible line of action in resolving these issues.
“We are interested in having an update from the parties on the performance of the related projects; we want to understand the challenges facing the operators as well as the grantor of the contracts and the various steps taken towards resolving these challenges; we want to hear from the parties their requests to the government in ensuring the projects are efficiently implemented for the overall benefits to the government.”
The Chairman, Resort Group, the parent company of BASL, Dr. Wale Babalakin, said it was a misconception that Bi-Courtney drafted the agreement of MMA2 and was given the concession without due process.
He added that the ICRC should study all documents on the issue and effect a handover of the General Aviation Terminal to his firm, which is under dispute between FAAN and BASL, and effect the payment of all arrears accrued since the legal operation of the facility began.
“If Nigeria wants to encourage private sector participation in the infrastructural development of the country, it must abide by international regulations; government and its agencies must respect and abide by concession agreements,” Babalakin stated.
The Deputy General Manager, PPP, FAAN, Monica Alphonse, said the GAT was not part of the concession agreement and that the exclusivity clause in the agreement that stated that no other airport terminal should be developed during the course of the concession period by BASL might have been based on the 12-year tenure, which had since ended, adding that the clause was antitrust and anti-development.
Alphonse, however, stated that FAAN was willing to see that the concession problems were resolved in order to encourage development in the aviation industry.
The ICRC DG appealed to both parties to sheath their swords and embrace a peaceful and amicable settlement of whatever dispute that existed on the projects.