The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has said that if the Enugu state government takes urgent action to enforce the directive given to address safety concerns at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, the federal government may reconsider the downgrading of the airport.
Sirika on Friday said the federal government had resolved to downgrade the airport due to issues bordering on safety of flights at the airport, which include dilapidated and undulating runway and other infrastructural breaches.
For the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to install safety critical equipment, rehabilitate the runway and provide other facilities that would enable international airlines to operate at the airport, the state government was expected to clear the flight path of structures.
The state government was also expected to relocate the market at Emene along with the abattoir in order to keep away birds from the airport; it was also expected to remove masts that tend to obstruct flights after takeoff from the airport.
When Sirka expressed the federal government’s intention to downgrade the airport, the state government reacted by closing the Emene market and the abattoir, ordered the relocation and demolition of structures on the flight path and also ordered the removal of the masts.
The Minister in reaction acknowledged steps taken by the Enugu state government and said, “We are happy to see that the Enugu state government has seen reason with the Ministry to address safety concerns raised. We are appreciative that in the name of safety, Enugu State Executive Council approved the immediate closure of Orie Emene Market (abattoir inclusive) to forestall any tragedy at the airport. We are also happy that the council also ordered immediate removal of all illegal structures encroaching on the land of the airport, radio mast of the state broadcasting service, and Free Trade Zone.
“We, however, would be extremely comfortable if compliance with the above directives from the state government are carried out as soon as possible to give us necessary allowance to carry out repairs as well as expansion and extension of the runway. All these will better the lot of the Enugu airport and improve safety a hundred fold.”
THISDAY gathered yesterday that the Enugu state government is firmly committed to meeting the requirements of FAAN and has ordered a committee already established to expedite action to ensure that all the directives given were fully implemented.