Africa: Nigerian Govt. Shuts Enugu International Airport over unsafe runway
FEDERAL Government has said it may have to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu or shut it down outright to enable it effect renovations on the airport runways to avoid any major incident.
This is just as the Murtala Muhammed International Airport ( MMIA) may be torn down and rebuilt with nothing less than N14 billion as the airport, according to him, has seen better days.
Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made this known at 2019 Stakeholders’ Forum where he said he had made entreaties to the Enugu state government to aid the Ministry to carry out renovations of the runway to no avail.
According to Sirika, the state government was supposed to remove its state radio station mast at the runway, relocate its market which has an abattoir that attract birds and some a free trade zone at the edge of the runway that would aid repairs.
Sirika said,”We may downgrade Enugu Airport in terms of international airport. The runway is terrible. I have been there three times, seen the governor of the state and to.d them what to do but nothing has happened.
” there is a market and an abattoir there at the side of the runway. And this attracts birds. Of recent Air Peace suffered a bird strike and this affected the airline, thank God no major incident.
” at the end of the Enugu runway, you have the government establishing a free trade zone at the Centre. Enugu is to the East what Kaduna is to the North. When government wanted to expand the runway to 60m long and 71 m wide there were few houses there and we were promised that they would be demolished and the owners compensated so we can have the improvement but now they have built more houses.”
” Enugu would have to be closed down, that is the honest truth. I’ve told the governor, please let’s face Enugu; expand it and extend the runway, we can push the market two or three kilometers away. We spent US$100 million dollars to do the terminal but who is going to go there? Even domestic airlines we will stop” Sirika said.
On the renovation of the MMIA, Sirika explained that the airport terminal has reached bucking point as it was built to handle 200,000 passengers but is currently doing 8,000,000 passengers and has collapsed.
According to him, Julius Berger has done the estimation and will do everything once the new airport is complete and operations shift there.
Speaking on same, managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma explained that the process may not take as long as they plan to finish the Chinese-Nigeria funded terminal and move some operations there while work takes place.
Speaking on projects done, Sirika explained that since 2015 it’s projects done are over 80%.
According to him, of the 157 projects were embarked upon, 130 of them have been completed 100%. He further said of the projects, 13% of the projects not completed are above 50% while 15% are below 50%
Meanwhile, Following safety concerns raised by Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on potential air hazards in and around the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, the Enugu State Executive Council has ordered the immediate closure of Orie Emene Market near the airport.
The State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ogbuagu Anikwe, disclosed that the council also closed the abattoir near the airport and equally ordered the immediate removal of all illegal structures encroaching on the land of the airport.
Mr. Anikwe added that “the Chairman of Enugu East Local Government Area has been directed to effect the immediate closure of the market”.
He explained that “the State Executive Council had on 12thOctober, 2018 approved funds for relocation of the State Broadcast Mast on the approach of the runway to Okpatu Hill (Ugwu Rerenkwu) in Udi Local Government Area but the implementation of this project has been hampered by the disruptive activities of some youths in the community”.
According to the information commissioner, “Enugu State Government hereby directs immediate cessation of all hostilities against the project as any further interference will attract the full wrath of the Law given that the government has paid all the necessary compensation.
“The Traditional Rulers of Okpatu communities and Town Union Leadership are hereby called upon to ensure full compliance with the above directives”.