Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has announced the Federal Government’s inability to meet the Easter 2020 deadline for completion of the runway at the Akanu Ibiam International airport, Enugu, saying the reconstruction has been suspended.
The minister disclosed this after an inspection tour of the project, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, attributing the decision to suspend work to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sirika who arrived the airport with Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Rabiu Yadudu aboard a police chopper with registration number 5N-LEH, explained that the project, which he said was about 90 per cent completed, would have been delivered in six to seven days time but that the workers had to leave to be with their families because of COVID-19.
“Considering that construction workers have downed tools owing to COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government hereby, officially announces the suspension of procurement. The work would have been completed in six to seven days, but the workers left to be with their families in view of the social distancing,” Sirika stated.
While appealing for understanding on the part of the South-East people, the minister expressed the hope that the issues would be resolved in two to three weeks.
Sirika had on January 23, 2020, promised that the Federal Government was on course to ensure that the rehabilitation of the airport Enugu, is complete and reopened for flight operations before Easter.
On his official Twitter handle, he said we were on course to open the airport before the Easter celebrations.
“We are almost done with the installation of Instrument Landing System (ILS) and Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) at Enugu Airport. We are on course to reopen the airport before Easter, God willing,” he said.
Following the closure of the international airport for rehabilitation of the runway, Sirika had given the assurance in October last year, during the ministry’s budget defence before the House Committee on Aviation at the National Assembly, Abuja, that work on the airport will be completed before 2020 Easter if funds are made available.
He also promised that the airport would be one of the best in the country at the end of the reconstruction work.
Sirika disclosed that the Federal Government introduced “glass mesh” in the Enugu airport runway to strengthen it and help in retaining the structure for a very long time, stressing that the new technology, before now, was only introduced at the Abuja airport.
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His words: “Many other issues like the Cargo for this airport, other infrastructure, the terminal building under rehabilitation including the air conditioner system in the new international airport being built by the Chinese and of course the perimeter fencing, drainage and water supply, among others, will all be completed in this airport”.
He, therefore, commended Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, other South East Governors and stakeholders, for their sacrifice and commitment towards the rehabilitation of the Enugu airport and appealed for understanding on the part of the people of the Southeast geo-political zone.
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