Magnus Eze, Geoffrey Anyanwu and Jude Chinedu, Enugu
The Federal Government, yesterday, said that it was considering to concession the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this at the reopening of the airport.
But it was praises galore for President Muhammadu Buhari and the South East states’ governments as the eastern gateway was finally re-opened to flight operations after closure since August 24, last year.
Speakers after speakers eulogised the commitments of the federal and state governments the president, Minister of Aviation and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State to the realisation of the project.
Sirika, who also represented the President, assured Nigerians that the reopening was for immediate operations. He also disclosed that he had, on Saturday, approved and released N1 billion for continuation of work at the international terminal of the airport just as he said that with the completion of the runway, construction of the cargo terminal would commence without delay.
He said: “It’s a great pleasure for me in Enugu for this August occasion in this month of August for the reopening of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu for flight operations.
“This answers the question whether after opening, the flights will start to come. Indeed, the meaning of the opening of the airport is that it is open to flight operations.
“For the local flights, they can start from today, and the international from the 5th of September once the COVID-19 has opened the gates to come in. We are proud to say that this project being commissioned today is indeed a testimony to Mr Presidentsl’s commitment to the provision of infrastructure in the country.
“You may recall that the runway for this all important airport, which is vital for the economic development of the South East region and the country at large, was in a dilapidated state and condition, raising serious safety concerns.”
He noted that there were challenges in the course of executing the project such as lack of bitumen, the high price of quarry dust and COVID-19 lockdown and the change of ownership of the company handling the project but made sure that all these were not noticed.
The minister thanked Enugu State governor for coming to their rescue on tackling some of the challenges, which included the Orie Emene, the shanties, the radio masts, the trade free zone and the abbatoir which put the safety of the people coming into the South East at risk. He directed FAAN management to continue to ensure that preventive maintenance be carried out diligently so that they would not have to go through the painful experience of closure of the airport again.
He called on the people of the South East to increase their commitment by using the airport to the fullest of its capacity adding that the airport will be in the next round of concession so as to ensure value for money.
Governor Ugwuanyi, in his remarks, outlined the contribution of the state government to the realisation of the project to include removal of five units of two storey buildings, 14 units of one storey buildings, church cathedral structures, 85 bungalows, 16 shanties, 33 fenced empty parcels of land, 438 shops at Orie Emene, removal and relocation of 120 meters Enugu State Broadcasting Service, TV/radio masts and transmission station at Okpaku, Udi local government and removal of Orie Emene market. Construction of 3km asphalted road and other interventions.