By Chinedu Eze
The federal government has given the assurance that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu will be reopened before Easter.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, gave the assurance in Enugu Thursday after the inspection of the ongoing reconstruction of the runway of the airport.
The Enugu airport was closed to flight operations in August, last year, due to severe damage of the runway described as a death trap.
The minister, who was accompanied by the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, the House Committee Chairman on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, and the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu, said that the airport would be delivered before Easter with all the critical facilities that would enable international airlines operate from the facility.
He said apart from the runway and terminal building, where work is also going on, critical equipment such as Instrument Landing Systems( ILS), Air Field Lighting (AFL), approach lights, taxi lights, aerodrome markings and other facilities would be completed before the reopening date.
“What is my assessment? Honestly, I am very satisfied with the work according to the work approved. We are beating the deadline, that is sacrosanct, we are bringing the runway before Easter.
“We are confident that the contractors, Messrs PW, are capable of delivering this procurement. This is not the only job they have handled, as they are currently doing some work in Lagos too and have a lot of experience when it comes to runway construction.
“We take this job seriously, knowing that the future of this country cannot be mortgaged so if assignment is given it should be delivered. This is not the first terminal handled and I guarantee you by the time we are done with Enugu, you will be proud of what we have done at the airport. They will get the runway in time for Easter festivities.
“We know the importance of this airport to the South-east,” the minister said.
On the international terminal building at the Enugu Airport solely funded by the federal government, Sirika directed the Chinese project manager, Mr. Toby Luo, to ensure that all procurement should come in and the terminal delivered in 2020.
He explained that the Enugu terminal unlike the other four international terminals (Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Kano) that are funded by Chinese loan of $500 million is being built by government.
Sirika said: “The terminal building is not part of the loans procured from the Chinese, which Lagos and the others got but funding for this building is by the federal government and we will deliver this terminal building.”
The Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Ezeilo, said that the Enugu State Government will continuously support the minister in this venture.
She acknowledged the importance of the airport to the entire South-east and South-south states.
“The importance of this airport has come to bear with the closure. The impact is felt by the South-east and South-south and we will do everything to make sure it is reopened,” she said.
The Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnaji, said the legislative arm would continuously carry out its oversight functions and do all it can to ensure that everything works out.
Also at the inspection were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian representative in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Ben Tukur