The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has said that he will resign his appointment if the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) that was shut down for runway maintenance is not ready on schedule.
The airport was closed for traffic on March 8, 2017 and is expected to re-open on April 19, 2017.
Speaking in Lagos during an interaction with members of the Aviation Round Table (ART), Sirika said the decision to shut down the airport and divert traffic to Kaduna Airport was the right thing to do.
The minister who argued that Kaduna Airport has the edge over the nearest aerodromes to Abuja declared: “I believe we took the right decision. I’m very comfortable we’ll achieve the six-week target. It is six weeks of work, day and night. I will resign if we don’t meet the deadline. I’m committed,” he said.
He said so much work had gone into the consultancy and procurement of materials prior to the commencement of the repair work to ensure the six weeks deadline is not extended.
“Nobody has extended anything on the Abuja airport runway reopening deadline; our six weeks is six weeks,” he stressed.
When it is completed, Sirika said the runway would last for the next 10 years before it spoils in such a way to necessitate shutting it down.
The minister further said the choice of Kaduna Airport as an alternate aerodrome to Abuja was based on the ease of logistics and security it would provide. “Minna is closer to Abuja, but Kaduna has a straight road where Minna doesn’t. Kaduna has the facilities; it has enough hotels, it was the capital of Northern Nigeria and it hosted the world cup. And that’s why we opted for Kaduna instead of Minna, Jos, Kano airports.”
Also speaking at the event, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the federal government had done everything possible to ensure the comfort, safety and security of the travellers during the six-week closure of the Abuja Airport.
“Transportation from Abuja to Kaduna and vice versa is free for air passengers, security along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway is such that there is a presence of security agents at short intervals, the expressway itself has been rehabilitated to ensure a smooth ride. Having travelled on that road at least twice since the relocation, the ride is smooth. The safety and security of passengers at the Kaduna Airport are paramount and guaranteed, as have been attested to by many”.
He also said the reconstruction of the Abuja Airport runway had neared its halfway mark and “indications are that we are on course to re-open the Abuja Airport for flight operations on schedule.
“Kaduna airport is not the same as Abuja Airport. During this relocation, there is no way that the travelling public will not experience minimal discomfort. But, as a caring and responsible government, we have taken all the necessary measures to ease such discomfort.
“Thankfully, the efforts have paid off because operational disruptions have been minimal, despite the massive logistics involved in the relocation,” he added.