Nigerian government confirms date to complete Enugu airport

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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The Nigerian government has confirmed that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu state, South-East Nigeria, would be completed by April 2020.

Speaking with Journalists in Abuja after the defence of the 2020 Budget of Ministry of Aviation before the Senate Committee on Aviation, the Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, who noted that money to complete the Airport had been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, said that “we are waiting for the release and I am sure it will be released very soon.”

It would be recalled that President Buhari had on October 17, approved the release of N10 billion special intervention funds for immediate repairs and upgrade of the airport.

Announcing the release of the fund, President Buhari had said that he was aware of the central nature of the airport, which was closed for repairs since August 24, to the socio-economic development of the South-East.

Speaking further, Senator Sirika said: “We are meeting with the contractor. He will give us his programme of work; we will look at that programme of work diligently and ensure it is procured within the time and within the budget.

“And  the time for the procurement certainly will be before Easter,” he assured.

The Aviation minister who told the Senate Committee that the ministry was doing  its  best to ensure the reduction in air crashes, said: “Some of those ways we do is first and foremost to put all those things in place that will ensure safe operations.

“We also ensure the training and retraining of our personnel, train and retrain those who  man the airplanes, to regulate them, to ensure they are doing the right things and at the right time and that they are so proficient enough to be able to handle the operations safely.

“All of those safety and security critical items within the system of aviation is our concern.

“And we have emphasised and re-emphasised and improved upon those things that will make and ensure safe flight and operations.

“That is why you see all the might and weight and budget and purse of the civil aviation ministry is geared toward all those critical items that ensure safe operations are been dealt with.”

NATIONAL CARRIER

On National Carrier, Sirika who reiterated that the project would soon be realised, said: “Of course I have been consistent in this national carrier. It is coming very soon. We have finished the outline business case which had been duly considered by Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission(ICRC) and passed.

“They are back to us now and we have set up a committee as required  by law and by the programme and we will go to the market very soon and  once we are in the market, we will procure.”

Defending the Ministry’s Budget earlier, Sirika while reaffirming that airports in the country were wearing new look befitting of modem airports, said: “Infact, two of the new terminals (Port Harcourt and Abuja) constructed by CCECC which were commissioned last year are already in full operation while Lagos and Kano would in a short while follow suit.”

According to him,  for 2020, the sum of N41.8 billion was proposed for Capital Expenditure.

In his remark, acting Chairman of the Committee Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah  said that “I have seen the challenges for the new airport in Abuja and Port-Harcourt.

“How did we get involved in this multi billion dollar project without first sitting down to look at all these issues for concession before constructing the projects. We must begin to avoid the challenges by putting round pegs in round holes.”