By Chinedu Eze
The federal government has deployed about N1billion for the rehabilitation of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport runway.
Already, the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has set up a committee to overseas the restoration work.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said the runway has been in bad state due to overutilisation and needed to be totally overhauled.
Efforts to build another runway in 2010, as alternative to the existing one that has been overstretched, was rejected by the National Assembly on alleged outrageous cost at N63.5 billion.
Informed source at FAAN said the committee was expected to schedule the maintenance dates, which are expected to run from days to weeks and it is expected to also decide whether the runway would be closed daily or some hours of the day so that work could start on the facility.
The Minister has already designated Kaduna airport as alternative to Abuja so that flights would be diverted to Kaduna while during the period work will be going on at the nation’s second busiest airport.
Inside source also disclosed that the work has been already advertised and Gilmore, Julius Berger and PW had submitted bids for the project.
“Government is making urgent effort to start the rehabilitation of the runway at the Abuja airport and government has provided funds for the work, which could start anytime from now. The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had set up a committee about six weeks ago to oversee the rehabilitation, determine the dates and decide whether the airport would be closed for the period of restoration or choose to close it, for example, from 1:00 am to 6:00 am every day so that the airport could be operated part of the day,” the source disclosed.
After the committee’s final presentation to the Minister, he would be expected to discuss with the National Security Adviser (NSA) to agree on the date work would start on the runway.
According to a source, the Abuja airport would be certified by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in 2017, as the process for certification would end by March next year, as it has been chosen as the pilot for the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) No Country Left Behind campaign.
The acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu confirmed the rehabilitation plan for the Abuja airport and noted that all efforts are being made to ensure that the runway is restored to international standards.