THE Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika has said that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, will require N10 billion to be operational again.
Sirika made this known Thursday, in Abuja while addressing the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation.
Responding to question by the Chairman of the Commitee, Nnoli Nnaji, on what was delaying the completion of the airport, the minister 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.”
The minister said that the airport was closed because of the state of the runway and other safety concerns.
He said that there are some limitations in the airport, which had been brought to the attention of the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Sirika said that efforts were made to address the issues and inadequacies, which includes the presence of a market close to the runway.
He explained that 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 also said that the market had to be removed and a radio mast in the airport removed after a long battle.
Another issue, he said, was the encroachment of the airport by indigenes, who were converting part of the airport land to residential areas.
He claimed that those were the major reasons for the closure of the airport to avert air accidents in the airport.
The minister, however said that the design for a new runway had been done and that procurement plan was ongoing awaiting approval.
According to him, “the Akanu Ibiam 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 that Enugu being the headquarters of the former Eastern region, it is what Kaduna is to the Northern region and it is the only one of the five airports being funded by the Federal Government.
The Committee Chairman said that the airport was important to the people of the South East, South-South and part of the North Central zones.
He pointed out that the same attention, which the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport Abuja received during its repairs should be given to the Enugu airport.
The lawmaker said that the Abuja International Airport requires a second runway given its importance to economic activities in the country.
The chairman recommended that the 25 per cent of generated revenue being remitted to the federal account by Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) should be used to develop infrastructure at the airport by the agency.
According to him, the airport being the first point of call should have hotels and other basic infrastructure to aid business transactions.