The Federal government on Monday officially announced that it has finally shut down of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, .Abuja to commence repair works.
Announcing the official closure, in Abuja.during in a joint world press conference, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Transport and Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and hhis Aviation counterpart, Senator Hadi Sirika, as well as the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, insisted that the temporary closure of the airport was in the best interest of the country.
The official closure was sequel to a visit by the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, when he inspected the Kaduna airport and the railway to ascertain the state of readiness .
Nigeria has spent about N5.5 billion in rehabilitating the Kaduna Airport in readiness to take up flights meant for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, though only Kenya Airline has accepted to fly to Kaduna.
Mohammed said the closure would help to save lives, adding that there was no alternative to the closure of the airport when compared to the risk of losing lives, adding that all was now set for flight operations at the newly rehabilitated Kaduna Airport.
On his part, Amaechi said: “As you are all aware, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, will be shut from the midnight of Tuesday March 7, 2017 for the purpose of repairing the failed portion of the airport runway. During that time, Abuja flights will be diverted to Kaduna.”
Amaechi stated further: “The summary of the finding is that while the airport may not be 100 per cent ready, by the time Abuja airport is shut, it will, indeed, be suitable enough.
“You are also aware that repair work has been completed on Kaduna-Abuja road to ensure a smooth passage for Abuja bound passengers who land at Kaduna airport. What we are doing is rebuilding of Abuja runway and not rehabilitation. The runway was damaged due to long years of neglect. For us, there is no alternative to the closure and reconstruction of the airport to allow for proper reconstruction within the specified period of time.”
On logistics, the Minister of transport explained that adequate transportation arrangement had been put in place to ensure a seamless movement of passengers on the road, rail and by air.
It was learnt that the temporal closure will see Kaduna International Airport upgraded in status given the turnaround work that it has gone through in the past three months.
“By April 19, 2017 when Abuja Airport will be re-opened, Nigeria would have added Kaduna airport to its present three international Airports, said Minster of State Aviation, Senator Sirika .
Sirika said all pending works at Kaduna airport had been completed as at Monday, including the ceiling of the protocol and VIP lounge and lighting works.
“We are still talking to Lufthansa and British airlines and by evening, we will know how many international airlines that will be flying the Kaduna route.”
On the cost of reconstructing the runway, he said the contract was in excess of N5.5 billion, adding that no amount to be spent in the course of closing the Abuja airport could equate the loss of any life.
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