Perennial blackout on the major access road into the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, has raised security concerns for both travellers and residents along the busy artery.
Without functional streetlights in the last couple of weeks, the access routes in and out of the flagship port of entry have been in pitch darkness with noticeable hideouts for criminals to waylay travellers.
The Guardian learnt that the recently built expressway has been without power from Oshodi and Iyana-Isolo axis inwards the airport in the last four weeks.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which owns the airport and manages its appurtenances have regretted the blackout, blaming it on wiring issues and the high cost of alternative source of power given the erratic supplies by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
It will be recalled that the Wing D of the international facility also suffered hours of an embarrassing power outage at the weekend, which the Authority blamed on a windstorm, though that has since been restored.
But the “dark tunnel” of the Lagos Airport road is a different proposition for nearby residents. Olumide Akinfolami, a resident of Ajao Estate, said the pitch-darkness that envelops the corridor is unbefitting.
“I live close by and from my rooftop I could see the total darkness at nightfall. I think whoever is in charge should do better to end this embarrassment. Nowhere in the world, including in war-torn cities, do you see an international highway unlit at night. It suggests a country that has shut down.
“It is always a deserted road around midnight, except for occasional vehicles that will race pass. That is a security risk for any user and adjoining community. The Lagos State government should wade in to restore power immediately,” Akinfolami said.
Motorists and pedestrians are now freely attacked around the Apakun bridge, from as early as 7:30 pm till daybreak.
“You will be the most unfortunate should your vehicle break down anywhere from Iyana-Isolo to Hajj Camp Access Gate of the Airport,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel, who runs a shuttle service at the International Airport, said “power outage has made the airport environs most risky for all. The bad boys with machetes and firearms are more emboldened to operate all over Ladipo and down to 7&8 area. Even the police are afraid of them.
“They have their hideouts in the darkness, waiting for any vehicle that will slow down for potholes and rough patches. Sir, my advice for you is if you are so unlucky and your vehicle breaks down anywhere on the airport road at night, put on the hazard light and run for your life as fast as your legs can carry you. You will return to meet your vehicle stripped but your life will still be intact. It is that bad,” Gabriel said.
FAAN earlier apologised to passengers and other airport users that witnessed a temporary power outage at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, at about 23 hours on Friday.
The outage was as a result of the evening rain that came with very fierce winds and storms, which “affected one of our feeders, and consequently resulted in the temporary disruption of power supply at the D wing of the airport.”
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, urged FAAN to put necessary measures in place to avert a repeat of the power outage.
The committee chairman said the parliament was not happy with the development, adding that a prime airport like the MMIA ought to have standby generators that are supposed to switch on automatically immediately after the public power source goes off.
General Manager of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, disclosed that the international terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport has six 4.8 KVA generators serving as alternative power sources to the terminal and that they usually switch on automatically within five seconds whenever there is disruption from the national grid.
Rabiu also disclosed that the greatest challenge facing the authority is that some of the underground cables are damaged and need total replacements because they were laid over 40 years ago