The Federal Government yesterday blamed former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration for the delay in installation of the airfield lighting on the domestic runway of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos.
It, however, assured that within the next three months, the airfield lighting would be ready to allow for night operations, as well as reduce pressures on the alternate international runway domestic carriers currently use for night flights.
Obasanjo’s government awarded contract for reconstruction of the runway, in the aftermath of its failure which resulted in several aircraft incidents and near crashes at the airport.
Although the physical construction of the runway had been completed some four years ago, the airfield lighting had remained un-installed, leading to frequent brushes between the authorities and airlines, who had blamed the development on additional fuel and cost incurred from operations on the runway now limited only to daylight flights.
Aviation Minister, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze, who barred government’s frustration about the non-installation of the airfield lighting while commissioning Arik Air’s new executive private jet just acquired by the airline, said the delay resulted from the fact that separate contracts were awarded for both the runway construction and airfield lighting.
According to her, this runs contrary to the principle of runway contract which integrates physical construction and installation of airfield lighting.
She said the present government had been trying to ensure that operations on the runway were not completely stalled, adding that explained why it was working out a way to ensure how the facility could be installed without hampering operations.
Njeze said: “ The problem of airfield lighting is what we are trying to solve. Hitherto, when runways are being constructed, they award runways differently from airfield lighting, and that is what we are trying to correct.
“If they had awarded installed airfield lighting when they awarded contract for the runway, all at the same time to the same contractor, this issue wouldn’t have been on ground. Now, you have to be careful because of operations going on , you are going to open up, you are going to do civil works, so it’s going to affect operations.
“We are going to be careful; we are trying to manage situations. How do you manage it without stalling operations and also have it (installation) on. So, that’s is the modality we are trying to straighten. The equipment are on ground; contractors are on ground, but you have to also look at operational issues concerned with it.”