Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, yesterday announced suspension of ongoing rehabilitation work at Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu.
Sirika, who made the announcement when he inspected the airport, said procurement was suspended because workers of the construction company, PW, handling the project left the site to be with their families owing to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.
The minister, who was accompanied by the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Hamisu Rabiu Yadudu, stated that “92-93 per cent of the work at Enugu airport has been completed.”
According to him, “The work would have been completed in a few weeks’ time, but the workers left to be with their families in view of the social distancing protocol.
“But considering that the construction workers have downed tools owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government hereby officially announces suspension of procurement.”
He added that the remaining work at the airport would only require 15 days to be completed when the workers return to site.
He stated that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was fully determined to complete the rehabilitation of Enugu airport to international standard before Easter.
Sirika explained that the circumstances the nation has found itself, regarding the escalating threat of COVID-19 globally, has made it impossible for the federal government to meet the deadline.
The minister pointed out that though the federal government had closed Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, alongside others, as one of the proactive measures to contain the spread of the deadly disease, such necessary decision couldn’t have affected the ongoing work at the airport if not that the company’s workers downed tools.
Sirika disclosed that the federal government introduced “glass mesh” in Enugu airport runway to strengthen it and help in retaining the structure for a very long time, adding that the new technology prior to this time was only introduced at Abuja airport.
“Many other issues like the cargo section for this airport, other infrastructure, the terminal building under rehabilitation including the air conditioner system in the new international airport being built by the Chinese and of course the perimeter fencing, drainage and water supply, among others, will all be completed in this airport,” he said.
He, therefore, commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, other South-east governors and stakeholders for their sacrifice and commitment towards the rehabilitation of Enugu airport and appealed for understanding on the part of the people of the South-east geo-political zone, expressing hope that the issue of COVID-19 would be resolved soon.