Africa: Lagos seals 13 banks, 13 hotels, 17 others on airport road as aviation expert condemns action

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For alleged lack of building permit the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has sealed 43 structures on Airport Road for violating the Physical Planning law of the state.

This was disclosed by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, who said the development affected 13 banks and 13 hotels among others.

According to nairametrics.com, Salako explained that the buildings, most of which are in use, were either built without planning permit or built without conforming to their approval order.

He emphasised that the area, being an international gateway to Lagos State, must not be defaced with illegal developments, stressing that all physical developments on Airport Road and other areas of the State must conform to the planning laws of the government.

He said, “It is by enforcing strict compliance with laws and regulations that we can halt the pervasive incidence of illegal and unapproved buildings, protect the Operative Development Plans of Lagos State and sustain an orderly, organised and livable environment.”

The Commissioner warned those buying or renting property to ensure that the planning permits and Certificate of Fitness for habitation are in order to avoid their property being sealed.

The Commissioner averred that the Physical Planning enforcement exercise, which commenced some weeks ago, is aimed at eliminating the menace of illegal buildings and sanitise the built environment in Lagos State.

However, the action of the Lagos State government to seal the businesses along the road leading to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport has been generating reactions in the aviation community.

Aviation security consultant Group Captain (Rtd) John Ojikutu, has criticised the action of the Lagos State government saying the action of the state is in breach of the rights of FAAN and could be a threat to aviation security.

Ojikutu in an article stated that the Lagos state government took the action oblivious of the extant civil aviation laws and the rights the Federal government through the airport authority have over such roads in the country.

He said: “When Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State threatened that he would close the Lagos airport following the Federal Government (FG) declaration of the lockdown on states as a result of the afflicting COVID-19 pandemic, I thought it was a joke being carried too far. Following and immediately after him, Governor Wike of Rivers State invaded the Port Harcourt City Airport housing the Nigerian Air Force Base with his own state security outfit to arrest passengers and crew of a special flight from Lagos to Port Harcourt that was approved by the Federal Ministry of Aviation.

At a time of a national emergency like the COVD 19 lockdown by the FG, it is doubtful if these two governors and the others know the limitations of their powers over the federal government premises, infrastructure or facilities in their states especially the exclusive constitutional provisions and in particular the CAA that give the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), exclusive rights on FG airports.

“Under the COVID lockdown, there have also been reported cases of violation of the FG Directives by local aviation operators, assisted most likely by insiders in governments. These violations have been getting increasingly dreadful of possible copycats outside the sector with motives that could be waiting to test the resolve of the federal government preparedness on airport security and its severe consequences on the national security. These violations or infringements of the States governments, local and foreign operators on federal laws on civil aviation call for the tightening of the grips on federal Airport Security and the Revenue Earnings Structures.

“Over the years, the MMA in Lagos State in particular, known to be situated within uncontrolled urban development areas of Ikeja, Oshodi, Mafoluku, Akowonjo Egbeda, Shasha, Ejigbo, Ajao Estate, Besam, etc. and further, sandwiched between complicated road networks connecting these areas is threatened by the activities of the State and Local Governments.

“In spite of the established physical survey plan and the gazette by the FG, the airport land areas have been badly encroached upon by various private developers. FAAN successive administration of the airport too remained helpless especially when property owners on the encroached part of land are provided Certificate of Occupancy approved with the connivance of officials of the State Government. The locations of some of these houses have also encroached beyond the limit provided for the security and safety margin for the airport operation by global standards and the National Civil Aviation Regulations.

“Beside the encroachment on the MMA areas by private developers, the control and the management of the two Airport Intercity Roads that drive from the city into the Domestic and International Terminals are becoming contentious issues between FAAN and the Lagos State Government (LSG) and sometimes too between FAAN management and the surrounding LGAs. These issues bother seriously now on a planned attempt by the LSG to begin the tolling of one of the roads without any evidence of formal approval from the responsible authority of FG informing FAAN. There have also been no formal records of engagement, nor agreement between LSG and FAAN.

“The planned tolling of any Federal Airport Intercity Roads by any state including the LSG is a unilateral exploitation of FAAN rights in the resources or facilities under its management and for business development in the airport. The approval for ceding such right of federal infrastructure to any State or LGA could not have been given by an official that has clear knowledge and understanding of civil aviation infrastructure management and regulations. MMA, like the twenty-two other Airports in the country is a Federal Airport which its aeronautical and non-aeronautical infrastructure are owned by the FG and should not be compared with those of states and private airports like Asaba, Uyo, etc. airports.

“The ceding of the Federal Airport Intercity Road to the LSG or to any other states if it is true may snowball into another conflict of interest when the airports are eventually given out in concession to private companies.

“Ceding Federal Airport Intercity Roads to States Governments (for tolling) would need a serious rethinking otherwise, there would be conflict of financial interest and conflicts of authority in the management of security in the airports where states are not known as adherent to Civil Aviation Act (CAA), The Civil Aviation Regulation (Nig. CARs) and the Civil Aviation Security Programme (NCASP). It is important to note that almost all the Federal Airports Service Roads and Intercity Roads nationwide are drawn directly into and terminating into the Airport Terminals from major Federal roads.”

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