The Federal Government yesterday officially announced the temporary closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, for six-week rehabilitation work on its runway.
It was learnt that the repair exercise and logistics would cost N5.8bilion.
The announcement was made jointly by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, his counterparts in Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and Aviation, Hadi Sirika, yesterday to put an end to weeks of speculations, debates and apprehension on a likely postponement of the closure date given the state of preparedness at the Kaduna Airport.
Mohammed said the airport, which would be closed for six weeks would be officially shut from 12 a.m. today.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Federal Government had fulfilled its promise to make the Kaduna Airport available and ready as an alternative.
However, workers still need to fit electricity, seating and toilets to a new terminal at the Kaduna Airport, which will handle the capital’s air traffic but lacks capacity.
Most floor and ceiling tiles have been fitted and all air conditioning units have been installed, but electrical fittings remain work-in-progress, chairs for the arrival and departure areas lie strewn about and a car park expansion is incomplete.
“Contractors are working day and night,” said an official from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), who is not authorised to talk publicly on the matter.
This situation runs contrary to the statement of the Managing Director of FAAN, Mr. Saleh Dunoma, who said in Abuja, the Kaduna Airport is now set for international operations.
According to Dunoma, “All the things we need for international operations are on ground. What is important actually is the safety equipment for the landing of the aircraft. We have seen the runway is good, the Instrument Landing System (ILS) has been installed and the terminal building is ready.
He added: “I think this is one of the luckiest airports. They have five generators as standby power supply. So we have more than enough.
Also, Fola Akinkuotu, Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that once the Abuja Airport was closed, NAMA would deploy the mobile tower from the airport to Kaduna to complement what is already on ground.
Akinkuotu said: “As far as this (Kaduna) airport is concerned, NAMA management is very satisfied that we have done a good job.