The minister of state for aviation, Hadi Sirika has announced the closure of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport for six weeks within February and March 2017.
He said the decision is hinged on government’s plans for rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Sirika announced this while addressing newsmen on Monday, he said the closure is in line with the aim of the Federal government to restructure the aviation agencies which will ensure repositioning of the sector.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari has okayed the reconstruction of the airport to commence immediately as the airport is of central importance to the smooth administration of the country.
He further stated that within this period of six weeks, Julius Berger, the contractor, will be seen reconstructing and repairing the damaged airport runaway.
Sirika explained that repairs of the Abuja airport runaway had been ongoing in the last three months but closure had to come to fore to accelerate the reconstruction within the shortest possible time as the federal government can’t afford to close the airport for a long time.
“From start to finish of the runway, it will take six months. However, we will be using the runway almost throughout the period except for about six weeks when the runway will be closed,” Sirika asserted.
“That is when we are going to do the mid-section of the runway. The government has accepted the design done by the contractor. The runway will last for another 10 years on completion early next year.”
He explained that the Kaduna Airport will be used as alternative route for Abuja-bound air passengers from any part of the world within this six weeks period.
He also explained that palliative measures have been put in place to convey passengers from Kaduna airport down to Abuja.
According to him, the consensus between the federal government and the Kaduna state government is for the federal government to provide buses to transport air passengers from Kaduna to Abuja and the state government would provide adequate security for passengers.
He said this is of high cost to the federal government “but we think that palliative approach is wrong because three years down we will come back to do the same repairs.
“Therefore, we decided to go for the bigger option, which is to do structural repairs of the runway which will take about six months to complete.”
Sirika also explained that the federal government had signed BASA with 18 countries that Nigerians frequently visit and do business in as bilateral air agreement.
The Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs), he said, would give Nigeria the opportunity to operate air services with 18 countries.
“With this, we have the freedom to fly and land safely in other air space and this will assist in opening our market,” said Sirika.
By Joseph Emmanuel….
RipplesNigeria ….without borders, without fears
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