Power cuts have caused series of near-tragic landings at the Lagos airport, in southwest Nigeria, over the past few days, passengers aboard the lucky planes have said. And the two electricity generators serving the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, have broken down, thus compounding the situation.
On Monday night, as an Emirates Flight EK781 was about to land, a sudden power cut struck, forcing the pilot to divert the plane to Lome, capital of Togo, a neighbouring West .
The Emirates plane, an Airbus A340-500, had arrived from Dubai, United Arab Emirates and had already received clearance for landing from the traffic controllers when the near accident happened at about 7.44 pm, reports said.
The plane, it was learnt, returned to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, several hours later and made a safe landing at about 11p.m. A few minutes after, passengers said, there was another power outage at Nigeria’s gateway. The incident was almost a repeat of what happened to a Kenyan Airways flight on Saturday night.
The Kenyan Airways had come from Nairobi, Kenya, and had arrived the Lagos airport at about 9p.m. in complete darkness.
“The blackout was total,” said a passenger onboard the plane.
“The experience I had on Saturday was very difficult. The runway light at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos was switched off. The arrival hall was dark and the immigration officials were using torchlight to work. I even wanted to talk with the pilot but it was too dark and I couldn’t see her.”
The passenger, a frequent traveller, pledged anonymity but called on Nigerian authorities to come clean with the truth.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Datti, said that rain storms were to blame. He also admitted that since the generator house was blown off last year, it had not been fixed and the water penetrated the panels.
As a result, he said, the panels were soaked and could not transmit power to the E-wing of the terminal building.
He said: “The heavy rain storm that occurred in Lagos yesterday, March 4, disrupted power supply to the Murtala Muhammed Airport for about six minutes due to a power surge from the two main PHCN power supply sources to the airport.”
The airport is connected to two main power sources from Ejigbo and Egbin power stations.
Datti said the storm initially knocked off the power supply from Ejigbo which led to a three-minute outage at the airport before FAAN engineers switched over to the alternate power supply source from Egbin. “That supply line was later affected by the storm, leading to another three minute power outage,” he said.
“Our engineers then switched over to the airport’s standby generators, some panels of which were unfortunately soaked with water, due to the heavy flooding that resulted from the heavy rainfall.
“This resulted in a blackout at the ‘E’ wing of the airport, including the avio bridges. It was for this reason that arriving passengers on an international flight were processed through an alternative route at the terminal and in the process, were exposed momentarily to the rain,” he said.