Christopher Isiguzo and Chinedu Eze in Enugu
The ongoing rehabilitation of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, will be completed and the airport reopened before the Easter deadline, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has said.
Speaking yesterday during an inspection visit to the airport, the minister reiterated the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the rehabilitation is completed in record time in order to alleviate the suffering of airport users in the area.
He said the contractor, PW, had been urged to ensure that he delivered the best of jobs in order to ensure that what happened to the runway, which failed after six years, did not repeat itself.
The minister, who was accompanied by the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo; the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji; and the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu, said the airport would be delivered before Easter with all the critical facilities that would enable international airlines to operate from there.
He said apart from the runway and terminal building, where work is also ongoing, 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,” he said.
According to him, the Buhari administration is determined to embark on projects that have direct impact on the people, adding that the future and fortune of this country cannot be mortgaged, no matter which way.
He said: “The government itself was established on the principles and mantra of change; we are here to change the way things are being done. This is not the first assignment they will handle. By the special grace of God, we did it very well; so, this one will not be an exception. I guarantee and I will assure you that by the time we are done with Enugu, the people will be very proud of this airport and you will be very proud of the service we have rendered.”
The minister reassured the people that the government would ensure that all airports are properly secured and fortified, stressing that encroachment would no longer be tolerated.
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 be 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 the federal government.
Sirika said though, the airport was not included in the Chinese loan financing, after considering the importance of Enugu to the South-east, the federal government decided to fund the terminal building through budgeting.
He said the airport, when completed, would be operational 24 hours while the Enugu State Government had promised to supply water to the airport.
Also speaking, Ezeilo said the state government would 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 added.