The Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, has re-assured air travelers and the people of the South East that the rehabilitation work at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu will be completed before Easter. The Minister stated this after inspecting reconstruction work at the airport.
Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu is the only international airport in the South East Zone, through it also serves some air travelers from Crossriver, Kogi and Benue States. The airport was closed on August 24, 2019 following safety concerns, particularly development of potholes on the runway that often caused bumpy take off and landing of aircrafts.
The closure generated some concerns in the South-East at that time because there was no known contractor awarded fo the rehabilitation of the airport neither was there any date set for its re-opening. This propelled Governors and stakeholders in the zone to meet with the Aviation Minister and other relevant authorities.
Following the development, the Federal Government set aside ten billion nairia for rehabilitation of the runway to international standard, installation of landing system, including approach lights, taxi and air field lightings as well as aerodrome markings for twenty-four hours operations, with promise by the aviation Minister, Mr. Hadi Sirika, that the airport would be ready befor Easter 2020. However, there has been doubt, whether the contractor would meet the Easter deadline.
The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation shared same view as its chairman, Mr. Nnoli Nnaji, expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of work during its inspection of the airport last week
“Let me be frank with you we are not happy with the pace of work and it is not acceptable to us if don’t complete the work before Easter and Easter is very crucial to the people of the South East, please we don’t want to disappoint our people,” the lawmaker lamented.
Perhaps this prompted the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, to inspect the rehabilitation work at the airport after which he expressed confidence that the job would be completed in the record time.
“Ahead of the starting of (work on) the runway, we are installing the landing system there; I am sure we will deliver this procurement before Easter, I am insistent on Easter, Easter is sacrosanct,” Mr. Sirika assured.
The Minister, who said work at the international wing of the airport has reached sixty -percent completion, noted that efforts were on-going to enhance water supply and security at the airport. “You could see also that the perimeter fencing has commenced to ensure that the airport is secured. These are part of ancillary works,” the Minister stated.
Mr. Sirika also have hope that a maintenance programme had been drawn for all airports in the country to sustain the facilities. Similarly, the consultant for the airport rehabilitation, Mr. Kefi Rabi, also expressed the hope that the project would be delivered on schedule.
According to him, “you can be sure that within the next fourteen days we will be out of here. Contractors are working steadily, we have also informed them that should they be running out of time, they should work at night.” The Chairman South-East Governors’ Forum Committee on Airport Renovation, Chief Chris Okoye commended the Federal Government for the standard of work done so far.
“We have obviously seen that an integrated approach has been used to bring in almost all the processes that are required to make Alanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu an acceptable system.”
Enugu state commissioner for works and infrastructure, Mr. Greg Nnaji re-echoed the state Government’s support to the timely delivery of the project. “Should there be any incumbencies to the on-going perimeter fencing, please do inform us as the state government will decisively deal with any person or group obstructing the work because the Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is very much interested in ensuring that the project goes on smoothly and completed as promised,” Mr. Nnaji stated.
Meanwhile, frequent users of Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, who have been subjected to going to Owerri and Asaba airports for their journeys, since the closure, will certainly be happy if the airport comes alive by Easter, alongside ancillary service providers, including airport taxi drivers and travel agents, who depend on the operation of the airport for their daily bread.