The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Thursday said the Federal Government needs N10 billion to put the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu back into operation.
Sirika, who disclosed this known while addressing the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation in Abuja, said, “Given the money, we have a time frame of delivering the airport before Christmas; the choice is because we understand that people travel back home during the period and we want them to find a new airport on arrival. We have put before government a request of N10 billion and we believe government is doing everything possible to provide the funds.”
He said the airport was closed because of the state of the runway and other safety concerns.
He said there are some limitations in the Enugu airport, which had been brought to the attention of the Governor of the state.
Sirika said efforts were made to address the issues and inadequacies, which include the presence of a market close to the runway.
He said because grains were being sold in the market, it attracts birds, which could be ingested into the engine of the plane and cause safety concerns.
The minister said the market had to be removed and a radio mast in the airport had been removed after a long battle.
He said another issue was the encroachment by indigenes who converting part of the airport to residential area.
The minister however said the design for a new runway had been done and that procurement plan was ongoing awaiting approval.
He said Enugu International Airport is extremely important for us at the ministry as it is International and it is considered when Nigeria is being scored for security and safety.
He said Enugu being the headquarters of the former Eastern region, it is what Kaduna is to the Northern region and it the only one of the five airports being funded by the federal government.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Committee, Nnoli Nnaji, said the airport was important to the people of the South East, South South and part of the North Central.
Nnaji said the same attention given the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja should be accorded the Enugu airport.
The lawmaker said the Abuja international airport requires a second runway given its importance to economic activities in the country.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.