Akanu Ibiam Airport: South East Governors seek to defer closure

Chukwumerije Aja, Enugu

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South East Governors forum, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to defer the closure of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu till the end of October, 2019.

The Governors said the request for the extension became expedient following the difficulty travellers from the zone would experience adding that the extension will enable them make adequate arrangements for airport users in the zone and few remedial works in the Airport.

The Governors asked the President to approve  their earlier resolution  banning herdsmen without cattle and movement of cattle by foot in the zone to eliminate increasing cases of killing, maiming, raping of  women, kidnapping of  the people and destruction of farmlands mostly carried out by foreign herdsmen with the backing of some compromised local herders.

In a letter to President Buhari by Chairman of the forum and Governor of Ebonyi state, Chief David Umahi, the Governors called on the President to direct the Aviation sector of the Federal Ministry of Transport to provide immediate palliatives in form of transportation with armed escorts and helicopter services to prospective passengers from alternative Airports that connect the zone.

The Governors averred that Federal Ministry of Works in collaboration with the South East Governors’ Forum  should be directed to carry out palliative repairs on the major roads leading to the alternative airports as well clear all the bushes along the routes for better view of road users.

They called for 24-hour joint security patrol be provided for the safety of  the people and visitors to the South East who will be using the roads day and night through the alternative airports.

The letter reads “the South East Governors’ Forum highly appreciates Your Excellency Mr. President for granting our request for the immediate resurfacing of the tarmac and extension of the runway of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu for public safety.

“May we use this opportunity to also thank you for the consistent progress of works at the Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha and other federal government projects in the South East especially the completion of the Zik’s Mausoleum in Onitsha and 2.8 mega watt solar power plant at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo in Ebonyi State.

“As we thank you Mr. President, we are constrained to ask for your kind intervention in the observations we have made to the Federal Ministries of Transport (Aviation sector) and Works on the closure of the airport for the renovation works.

“Your Excellency, in our letters to the respective ministries, we observed that the notification of the closure was prompt giving us no time to make adequate arrangement for the security and convenience of our people and visitors to the South East who will be travelling long distances to alternative airports where flights will be diverted to.

“We request that the closure of the airport be deferred to the end of October, 2019 to enable adequate arrangements to be made for security of the airport users and for few remedial works within seven (7) days to be carried out at the tarmac to ensure safety”.

“That Mr. President do approve the earlier resolution of the South East Governors banning herdsmen without cattle and movement of cattle by foot in the zone to eliminate increasing cases of killing, maiming, raping of our women, kidnapping of our people and destruction of our farmlands mostly carried out by foreign herdsmen and in most cases with the backing of some compromised local herders.

“We plead with Mr. President that we publish this letter to assuage our people’s feelings who erroneously think that no efforts are being made by the leaders of the South East to tackle insecurity and economic challenges facing the zone and to let them know that her leaders before now have been working very hard without making noise as issues of security must not be discussed in the public.

Nnenna.O