VIDEO: Abuja airport runway is 57.5% completed, says aviation minister Hadi Sirika

Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, says the rehabilitation of runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, is more than halfway completed.

The Abuja airport was temporarily closed on March 8 to give room for a six-week repair of its runway.

While briefing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the minister said: “Work is going on smoothly and everything is in order.”

Sirika also noted that the airport will be reopened for use on April 19.

“The contractor has mobilised fully and we have gone now about 57.5 per cent of the total work which is good and which shows that we are on time and that we are doing what we are supposed to do to ensure that the runway is opened come 19th of April,” he said.

“I am being asked what is imported for this purpose. There is a new technology where glass grid is put in the process of constructing the runway to re-enforce it, to give it extra strength and prevent cracks.

“This is the first time any Nigerian runway is being treated with such material and that material is a 50 tonner. We had to fly it in to Nigeria to ensure that it comes in time for this job and you have seen samples of it.

“The runway work is going according to plan and you could also see that we are working simultaneously. Whilst the surface work is being finished, the installation of lightings are going on at the same time. Channels are being cut for the laying of wires and also installing the lights at the same time. So, we are on course and this runway will be opened on April 19.”

“On Abuja runway rehabilitation site, work about 57.5% completed! Thank you all for the support,” Sirika had also tweeted.

While rehabilitation is ongoing, local and international flights have been diverted to Kaduna International Airport.

FAAN, Julius Berger releases progress report on Abuja airport repairs

The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and Julius Berger, the contractor handling the repair of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja runway, have said the work is 40 per cent completed.

The duo gave made this known in Abuja on Monday when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, led by its Chairman, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, inspected the project.

Yemi Ayelesan, the Resident Engineer, FAAN, told the committee that the hardest part of the work, which is mailing of the 3.6km runway, had been completed.

He explained that the laying of ‘’fibre glide rubber”, which prevents water from going deep underground and also prevent runway from cracking, has also been completed.

Ayelesan told the committee that the contractors are working to specifications and would deliver on schedule, expressing confidence that the six weeks period for reopening of the airport was feasible.

According to him, the contractors are working round the clock to ensure that they meet the deadline.

Ayelesan said the repair work was a total reconstruction and not partial rehabilitation, explaining that the entire runway had been excavated for laying of asphalt.

He said there were isolated areas that were so bad that required digging deeper beyond mailing and laying of asphalt, stating that the entire surface were mailed to a certain depth.

According to him, there is nothing like partial rehabilitation, even the taxi way is being repaired.

Ayelesan saidL “Laying asphalt does not take time; it is the easiest part of the work.

“The lighting system is the next step, and the cable can be fixed within two days.

“As things are now, we will start fixing the light cable on March 29.”

Dr. Lai’s Richter, the Project Manager, Julius Berger, said the work was being done in line with the programme of work.

Richter said the fixing of the lighting cable would commence on Wednesday, restating that the runway repairs would be completed the before April 19 deadline.

Onyejeocha said their visit was to seek explanation on the level of work so far in line with the project agreement.

She also raised concern as to whether the repair work was a total reconstruction or partial repair, urging the contractor to ensure the completion of the project as scheduled.

“We want them to know that Nigerians are concerned and that there should be no extension of the completion date based on the agreement that we have put in place,” she said.

The contractors have recorded progress within 19 days since the commencement of work.

The runway was shut on March 8 for six weeks for its total repair and Abuja flights diverted to Kaduna pending the completion of the repair work.

Government denies rumored plans to shut Abuja airport for 18 weeks

The Federal Government yesterday denied that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) runway repairs would last for 18 weeks, contrary to the six weeks earlier announced.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed and the Ministry of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, dismissed the claim as a misinformation, re-assuring that all was on course to reopen the airport on April 19 as planned.

Both ministers, at a parley with the Aviation Round Table (ART) group in Lagos yesterday, said work was half way through and NAIA is due to reopen within six-week, after which other maintenance work would continue at night.

Sirika told the think-tank aviation group that he was surprised over a newspaper report yesterday that a Federal Government’s committee had extended the duration of the repair exercise.

He said: “I can tell you for a fact that no committee has extended the repair time frame. Our six-week plan remains.”According to the minister, “It was a tough decision to close the airport, but it was the best after all options were considered. A lot of planning, discussions and consultations were done. So, we believe that we are doing the right thing.”

Sirika also disclosed that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) would certify the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, in May and the NAIA in December.He said the certification of both airports was well on course, maintaining that no stone would be left unturned to actualise it.
Responding, ART raised concerned over security of night-time landing and takeoff at the international airport, while repair work would be ongoing around the runway.

Doyen of the aviation industry, Capt. Dele Ore, recalled a similar incident at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in 2003 when a cargo plane crashed into equipment stationed on the runway during night repairs.

Yesterday too, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Julius Berger, the contractor handling the repair said work is 40 per cent completed.They made this known when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation led by its Chairman, Mrs. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, were inspecting the project.

Resident Engineer of FAAN, Mr. Yemi Ayelesan, told the committee that the hardest part of the work, which is mailing of the 3.6 kilometres runway, had been completed. Ayelesan explained that the laying of “fibre glide rubber,” which prevents water from going deep underground and also prevent runway from cracking has also been completed.

He told the committee that the contractors were working to specifications and would deliver on schedule, expressing confidence that the six weeks period for the re-opening of the airport was feasible.

Ayelesan said the repair work was a total reconstruction and not partial rehabilitation, explaining that the entire runway had been excavated for laying of asphalt.Project Manager, Julius Berger, Dr. Lai’s Richter, said the work was being done in line with the programme of work.Richter said the fixing of the lighting cable would commence on Wednesday, assuring that the repair would be completed before April 19 deadline.


Source: The Guardian

I Will Resign If Abuja Airport Is Not Opened By April 19 – Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika

The Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika has said that he will resign if the Abuja International Airport is not opened by April 19, 2017.

The minister made this known at a meeting between the Ministry of Information and an Aviation Industry Pressure group round table in Lagos.

The Minister said the level of work on the Abuja runway in the past three weeks shows that the re-opening will be on schedule.

At the same meeting, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed debunked social media reports saying the runway will be closed for an extended 18 weeks.

Abuja airport shuts down for 6 weeks from tonight as work begins on runway.

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.

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.


Source: The Guardian

FG formally closes Abuja airport for renovation.

The Federal Government has formally announced the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, beginning from 12 a.m. Wednesday.

This was announced by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, at a world press conference Monday in Abuja.

The airport will be close for six weeks.

Also speaking, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the government has kept its promise to make Kaduna Airport ready for use as alternative.

Also, the Minister of State in charge of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said observations made by acting President Yemi Osinbajo who was in Kaduna Airport on Friday had been “taken care of”.

He said the government has set up a website:, through which information will be shared with Nigerians.

So far, only one international airline has agreed to use Kaduna airport, Mr. Sirika said.


Source: Premium Times

Saraki: No provision for repair of Abuja airport in 2017 budget

Senate President Bukola Saraki says no provision was made  for the repair of the runway of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja,  in the 2016 and 2017 budgets.

The airport will be closed for repairs from March 8 to April 19.

The project is expected to gulp N5.8bn.

According to a statement issued by Bamikole Omisore, Saraki’s media aide, the senate president said this on Friday while speaking with Sani Bello, Niger state governor.

He said the non-completion of the Minna airport re-modelling project had left the federal government with no option or backup, but to the divert flights to Kaduna.

“It makes a lot of sense to have an option. It is the lack of option that brings us to where we are that we cannot make a good choice,” he said.

“No provision was made, in either the 2016 or 2017 budget, for the rehabilitation of the Abuja airport runaway… one will be wondering how such kind of decisions are arrived at.”

He assured the governor that provision for funding would be made for the completion of the abandoned dualisation of  Suleja-Minna road.

Kaduna government commences construction of road linking train station to airport.

The Kaduna State Government has said it will complete a 5.1 kilometre road that links a train station to the Kaduna international airport before March 8.

March 8 is the day the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja will be closed for six weeks to enable major repairs on its only runway.

During the closure, flights to Abuja are expected to land at the Kaduna airport from where the passengers will be ferried by rail and road to Abuja.

Despite criticisms of the plan, the federal government has said there is no going back with both the federal and Kaduna governments saying adequate preparations have been made to ensure a safe and hitch-free six weeks.

Completing the new road that links the Abuja-Kaduna train station in Kaduna to the Kaduna airport will ensure smooth transportation of passengers to and fro the airport from the station.

The Kaduna State Commissioner of Works, Ibrahim Uthman, said the state government embarked on the train station- airport road project to reduce the long distance passengers from the airport would have encountered.

“This road will take the passengers directly to the train station in Rigasa, instead of a round journey that will have to go through Mando, Nnamdi Azikiwe Way, Bakin Ruwa and then into Rigasa.

“The project will be completed before the relocation of flights from Abuja to Kaduna,” he said.

Mahmidu Umma, a farmer, said apart from providing job opportunities for over 100 unemployed youth in the Rigasa community, “the new road will solve the problems of cattle rustlers who attack settlements along that part.”

Abiodun George, Managing Director of Embryo Nigerian Limited, one of the two contractors handling the road project, said they will work day and night to ensure completion of the project within one month.

The Kaduna State Commissioner of Works, Mr. Uthman, also said the state government plans to complete a bridge and the 16 kilometre township road project in Gonin Gora, Chikun Local Government Area of the state abandoned since 2012.

The road project was awarded at the cost of N640 million but had been abandoned by the contractor since 2012.

“It was re-awarded for completion at the cost of N480 million,” a source said.

Mr. Uthman, during a site inspection tour on Tuesday, said the state government has sued the former contractor to recover the undisclosed amount of money paid to him as mobilisation since 2012.

He said the project will be completed by the new contractor before the commencement of rainy season.

“This new contractor mobilised to site even without mobilisation money,” the commissioner said.

Liuinus Sidi, a community leader who spoke to our reporter, said three pupils were killed by flood while trying to cross the uncompleted bridge in 2014.

“We are grateful that work has resumed on the bridge after all these years,” he added.

Amaechi: We’ll ensure Abuja airport is reopened after six weeks

Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, says the federal government will ensure that the rehabilitation of the Abuja airport runway is completed in six weeks.

In a statement he issued by his media office on Tuesday, Amaechi, who acknowledged the pains the closure of the airport would cause travellers said his ministry would ensure its reopening after due rehabilitation.

Amaechi gave the assurance at a town hall meeting organised by the ministry of information in Ilorin, Kwara state on Monday.

“We are saying that the Abuja airport runway was built to last for 20 years but we have been using it for 34 years. It has become extremely dangerous to continue using it, the way it is right now,” he said.

“We need to close it to rebuild it and reconstruct it. The foundation is almost gone and what we are asking for is patience. If we don’t close it we will be exposing lives. One of the constitutional responsibilities of the president is to protect lives and property. So you can’t deny us that responsibility.

“We believe that if we close it by March, in six weeks time we shall be able to reopen it. We know it is challenging for our economy. We think that we will keep to that six weeks.”

While explaining issues concerning maritime in the north-central, Amaechi said his ministry was determined to launch the Baro River Port by the first quarter of next year.

“We met abandoned Maritime. Our target this year is that by first quarter of next year we shall be commissioning Baro River Port. We are in the process of awarding the contract for the last equipment that they will use at the River Port,” he said.

“NIWA is there working hard. I understand the sentiments of Baro. The only reason why we have not gotten the contractor at Lokoja part is that we don’t trust the contractor and I have directed NIWA to go and look for the process of terminating that contract and get a new contractor to complete the project and that mandate, we have from Mr President.

“The other mandate that will interest you is the central railway line, the Itakpe/ Ajaokuta  railway line. If you go back there now the contractors are back to site. We have sent them back to site. That is a 32 years project. Under this government we have decided and agreed with the contractors that we will complete it first quarter of next year.

“Even Baro will be completed first quarter of next year. The other thing that will interest you is the narrow gauge railway line that transverses your state (Kwara) to Minna. We are about to start negotiations with General Electric (GE). The narrow gauge will start if we successfully conclude our conversation. Before the end of this year, from Lagos to Ajaokuta to Ibadan to Ilorin to Minna and onward to Kano we will revive that railway line.”

He said $6.1 billion from the loan expected from China had been set aside for railway, but lamented that the national assembly has not approved it.

“Out of that borrowing plan, 6.1billion dollars is meant for railway. For the Lagos to Ibadan, you have 1.5billion dollars. The loan has been approved by the China Exim Bank, the only thing holding us today is that the national assembly is yet to approve the borrowing plan. As citizens from the north-central, please kindly appeal to the national assembly to approve the borrowing plan,” he said.

Abuja Airport Closure: Nigerian government to buy more rail coaches.

The Nigeria Government has approved the purchase of additional coaches for use on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line.

The measure is to meet with the additional passengers on the route expected from the planned closure of the Abuja International Airport in March.

The Minister of State for Transportation, Hadi Sirika, who addressed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Council Chamber, Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday said the meeting approved two memoranda from the ministry.

“One is for the procurement of coaches; two first class coaches, two for baggage and six for long distance economy class to improve upon this Kaduna airport project,” he said.

The minister said the purchases are to “boost rail transportation on the Abuja Kaduna standard gauge railway to improve on passengers and goods and also following the impending closure of the Abuja airport”.

He also said the effort “is to increase our capacity to handle passengers during this airport closure”.

Mr. Sirika said the other memo was for the establishment of joint briefing offices in all 21 federal government airports across the country.

He named the Airports to include those of Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ilorin, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Jos, Yola, Calabar, Enugu, Owerri, Kaduna, Benin, Osubi-Warri, Katsina Zaria, Minna, Bauchi, Ibadan and Akure, adding ” and of course three aerodromes namely; Bonny, Excravos and Eket”.

“These joint briefing offices will include the air automation and would co-locate the track-up projects, the total radar coverage, the air automation system, which include the air automation system and the pilot briefing offices.

“These are prefabricated because during the remodelling exercise of those airports they were tempered with so we thought we should just co-locate them in one area for efficiency and to safeguard against future relocations,” he said.

Airport Closure: “It’s easier to connect Kaduna from Abuja by road”, says Fashola

Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing, says the decision of the federal executive council to favour Kaduna airport over Minna airport is due to the ease or otherwise of connecting roads.

Fashola explained that given the current conditions of both roads, the Kaduna-Abuja highway currently lends itself more to the kind of emergency intervention to restore it to motorability within the short time assigned for the completion of the rehabilitation.

“While the road distance from Minna to Abuja is about 156 kilometres and Kaduna to Abuja is about 186 kilometres (a difference of 30 kilometres or thereabouts), I have driven on both roads recently and the Kaduna-Abuja road is in much better condition than Minna-Abuja, and lends itself more quickly to the implementation of this kind of emergency repairs,” Fashola said.

The minister, who reiterated that his ministry came into the matter in a complementary and supportive role, also added that the Abuja-Minna road is also currently under procurement.

He explained that though the contractor was having difficulty with his financing, the issues would eventually be resolved and the road fixed.

The minister also disclosed that in anticipation that Kaduna Airport would be the alternative airport, his ministry utilized the provisions of the emergency provisions of the Public Procurement Act to seek and obtain the approval of the Bureau of Public Procurement for the emergency rehabilitation of the bad sections of the Kaduna-Abuja highway at a cost of N1.058 billion.

He said although the contractor, Messrs CGC Nigeria Limited, had moved to site since January 7, 2017 and had proposed that it would be finished in 50 days, ending thereabouts on the 28th of February from the work plan that they have submitted to the ministry, they had not yet been paid.

“They have moved men and materials to site and this is the consequence of the confidence that has begun to come back to the construction industry since the implementation of the 2016 Budget that you passed,” he said.

Also acknowledging the inconveniences that Nigerian will experience during the period, Fashola advised that “this is also perhaps a time for us to adapt so that we can be safe”.

He called on airport users to alter some of their pre-scheduled programmes ahead of the closure or until after the closure, adding that they could also employ available technology such as skype or e-mail, SMS and teleconferencing.


Source: The Cable

Senate fails to stop closure of Abuja airport as engineers, ministers, Julius Berger disagree

Nigeria’s Senate on Tuesday failed to stop the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for repair work on its runway.

The federal government had announced that the only airport in the country’s capital would be closed from March 8 for six weeks.

According to the plans of the aviation authorities, flights will be diverted to the Kaduna Airport and passengers from or to Abuja will be required to travel by rail or road for the period of the closure.

In the previous weeks, the Senate, following a motion by Hope Uzodinma, the chairman of the Committee on Aviation, had queried the plan and summoned officials of the executive arm connected to the matter, including the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Minister of Transport, Rotimi Aamechi; and the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

Appearing before the Senate last week, Mr. Sirika who disclosed that the repair work would gulp N5.8 billion, insisted the closure was necessary.

At the resumed hearing over the matter on Tuesday, Senators argued against the government’s plan, citing inconvenience and security concerns over the Kaduna-Abuja Road.

But Messrs. Fashola and Sirika insisted the plan was necessary.

“It is runway of the airport that needs to be closed because it isn’t safe, it is a matter of immense public safety,” Mr. Fashola said. “If there is choice between convenience and safety considerations, safety come first.”

He disclosed that the contract for rehabilitation of the Abuja -Kaduna road had been awarded, and the work would be completed 50 days ahead of the closure.

“Minna is a shorter distance, but my humble submission is that Kaduna-Abuja highway lends itself to the situation. There would be inconvenience and I sympathise with those who would be travelling, but Nigeria is not the first country to close an airport and divert traffic to another city,” he said.

Mr. Sirika told the Senators the government had budgeted N1.134 billion to ensure convenience, safety and security of passengers moving between Kaduna and Abuja for the period of the six-week closure of the Abuja Airport.

The expenditure will go to the police, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Immigration Service, Civil Defense Corps, Road Safety Corps, and the Ministry of Transport, taking about N350 million, N100 million, N29 million, N325 million, N237 million, N84 million respectively.

Julius Berger, the firm handling the repair on the the airport, said it was possible to execute the work without closure of the airport using segmented approach, but that would take two and a half years to complete.

Even so, the company’s Managing Director, Wolfgang Goetsch, said not closing the airport while the repair is ongoing depended on the scale of the work.

“But the state of the runway in Abuja, extent of damage and deterioration. The whole runway from one end to the other end is damaged.

“This means that if the method of spot repair is loose, you start from one side of the runway, lock it in the night and in the morning to open it up for traffic,” Mr. Goetsch said.

He said his company guaranteed completion within six weeks “subject to fulfillment of obligation of all the stakeholders.”

He added that the runway after the repair would last for a minimum of 10 years if regular maintenance was carried out on it; and that his company had received the contract award letter but that it had not been signed.

However, the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE, disagreed with the ministers, aligning with the senators’ point that the repair can be done without total closure.

The NSE President, Otis Ayaeji, said closing the Airport was tantamount to shutting down Nigeria, adding that there were local engineers whose firms could handle the project competently without closing the airport.

In the end, the Senate could not stop the closure.

But it took the position that its preference was a segmented approach to the repair to avoid total closure, while leaving the aviation authorities to take decision based on technical advice.

Runway will take 2 years to fix if airport remains open, 6 weeks if closed – Julius Berger

The Managing Director, Julius Berger, Mr Wolfgang Goetsch, has said that the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, could be fixed without closing down the airport.

However, the company said the work would take more than two years.

Goetsch made this known in his submission before the Senate on Tuesday at the plenary. According to him, the runway can be repaired without closing the airport but is dependent on the scale of the repair.

He said that if there were only spot damages, then it could be repaired in a localised way.

“It can be shut down in the night. The spot can be repaired in the morning and temporarily given back for usage.

“But the state of the runway in Abuja, extent of damage and deterioration. The whole runway from one end to the other end is damaged.

“This means that if the method of spot repair is loose, you start from one side of the runway, lock it in the night and in the morning to open it up for traffic.”

According to him, this means that the spot repair will take two and half years to keep the runway stable.

“There is absolutely no option than to close the runway for these six weeks because it is not a repair work. It is a new construction of the whole surface of the building.”

Goetsch said that the runway had to be monolithic needing interlocked layers to guarantee a lifespan of 10 years.

He said that it was in the interest of all stakeholders to ensure that the work on the runway was carried out as quickly as possible.

“On our end, we guarantee that within the 6 weeks, the repair work is done. This is subject to the fulfilment of the obligation of all stakeholders,” he said.

“Under the leadership of the Minister of State for Aviation, all stakeholders are on board.

“Everything is going on very smoothly according to plan and there is no doubt that the obligation of all stakeholders is fulfilled.”

Also speaking, the Nigerian Society of Engineers said that it was possible to conduct the reconstruction of the runway without closing the airport.

“The society insists that it should be reconstructed immediately.”

President of the society, Mr Otis Anyaeji, noted that closing the airport was like shutting down the country.

According to him, the absence of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, meant lack of excess runway capacity to temporarily close down the only runway for repair.

He said that the society recommended for the runway to be reconstructed without closing the airport using segmented approach and known safety risk management procedures.

Nigeria is not the first country to close an airport for repairs, says Fashola

Babatunde Fashola, minister of works, power and housing, wants those opposed to the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport, Abuja, to know that Nigeria is not the first country to close an airport.

The decision of the federal government to shut the airport for six weeks over repairs on the runway has been met with stiff resistance in some quarters.

At the senate on Tuesday, Fashola said there was no other option but to close the airport, but Otis Anyaeji, president of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), disagreed, arguing that runway repairs could be done without a total closure of the airport.

They both appeared before the upper legislative chamber with Hadi Sirika, minister for state on aviation and a representative of Julius Berger, for a special session on the closure of the airport.

“It is runway of the airport that needs to be closed because it isn’t safe, it is a matter of immense public safety,” Fashola said.

“Right to life means nothing if government does not prevent loss of lives… Nigeria is not the first country to close an airport and divert traffic to another city, Manila has done it.”

He said the contract for the rehabilitation of the Kaduna-Abuja express way had been given out and contractors were already on site.

“They said the road would finished in 50 days, though they are asking of advance of more than 50 percent, they have not been paid but their presence is visible on the road,” Fashola said.

“Minna is shorter distance, but my humble submission is that Kaduna Abuja highway lends it self to the situation. They would be inconvenience and I sympathise with those who would be travelling.”

On his part, Otis argued that the work on the runway could be done in segments.

“The total shutdown if the air port is liking shutting down Nigeria,” he said, suggesting that smaller aircraft could use the Abuja airport, while bigger ones could be diverted to another location.

“It is possible to carry out the proposed rehabilitation without shutting down the airport, the issue is not technical but managerial. The runaway should be rehabilitated in segments,” he said.

“This has been done in the UK Gatwick airport, action should be commenced in the second runway.”

The Abuja airport will be shut  for a period of six weeks starting from March, and all flights would be diverted to Kaduna airport within that period.

Senate Maintains Opposition On Closure Of Abuja Airport

The Senate has maintained its opposition on the planned closure of the Abuja airport for repairs which are scheduled to last six weeks.

Speaking on Channels Telvision’s breakfast program Sunrise Daily, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, insists the lawmakers were yet to be convinced about the plans to provide adequate security and welfare for passengers.

According to him critical stakeholders in the industry including the National Assembly, were also not consulted in the decision to close the airport for repairs.

He however explained that the fact that a public hearing was held and stakeholders were invited, to explain their reasons, shows that the senate is indeed interested in considering all angles before taking a unified and final position.

Meanwhile, rehabilitation of the Kaduna Airport as an alternative for the Abuja airport, has begun.

On Thursday, Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, told the Senate that it would be unsafe to continue to operate in the Abuja Airport, as there had been daily incidents on the runway.

SHOCKING: Lifespan of Abuja airport runway expired 21 years ago. – Minister

Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, says the runaway of the Nnamdi Azikwe airport, Abuja, exceeded its lifespan in 1996.

Sirika, who made this statement while speaking at the senate, explained that the runway was constructed in 1982 — with a lifespan of 14 years. He said continued operations at the airport would be unsafe and unreasonable, as incidents are recorded daily.

Noting that the proposed repair of the runway would cost N5.8billion, Sirika said the runway repair was “as critical as the economy of the country”.

The minister gave a guarantee of 10 years, saying that the runway would serve the country for a long time after the repair. He said the runway, which is proposed to be shutdown in March, will be reopened after six weeks for better service delivery.

He said that while the runway would be shutdown for six weeks, repairs would last for six months.

He assured the public that unlike the Port Harcourt Airport, which was shutdown for two and half years because the runway got bad, the repair of the Abuja runway would take only six weeks.

“Closure of runway is not new. It is done all over the world. The action is in the best interest of Nigeria,” Sirika said.

“The runway is in dilapidated situation and poses security and safety threat to Nigerians. We will complete the maintenance work in six weeks; we will work day and night.”

Sirika further said that while the Abuja airport remains shut, the Kaduna airport would serve as an alternative.

He added that the ministry of aviation was collaborating with immigration, ministry of agriculture, police and other relevant stakeholders for smooth operations at the Kaduna airport.

The airport had earlier been closed for three days, and also for another 30 hours, with the Kaduna airport announced as alternative.

The senate had expressed reservations about the decision to close the airport and summoned three ministers: Babatunde Fashola, the minister of works, power and housing, Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transportation and Hadi Sirika, the minister of state for aviation.

“Senate is worried that a six-week outright closure of a major and the only airport in the Federal Capital Territory can trigger untold hardships on air travellers,” a motion by the senate read.

“The senate is determined to explore all other possible options that can avert the planned total closure of a strategic national airport for six weeks.”

OPINION: Before Abuja airport is shut down – Reuben Abati

A few years ago, the Federal Government of Nigeria shut down the Port Harcourt International Airport to carry out what they called repairs or was it renovation? It was supposed to be an exercise for a few weeks, but it took more than an entire year. Flights were diverted to an airport in the city at great cost to travellers, but the so-called renovation took forever.

The Port Harcourt airport became a grazing field for cows, at other times, a vehicle-driving field, and for more than one year, travel to Port Harcourt, one of Nigeria’s most strategic cities was a nightmare. Each time the Nigerian government talks about fixing the airports, using the words, renovation, rehabilitation or reform, it is better to be cynical. The Sam Mbakwe Airport in Owerri, for example, was once touted as a major hub in the South East, and government spent so much money turning it into an international cargo airport for the East, but that same airport soon became flooded during the rainy season and planes could no longer land.

Both the Port Harcourt and Owerri airports are currently in a permanent state of renovation. The lives of those who wanted to renovate them at any level whatsoever are ironically and scandalously, imaginably better renovated. The airports failed, the managers smiled to the banks. In those two airports, travellers were put through enormous strain because the entire airports or sections had to be shut down. But the people, expectant as they were had no choice in the matter. The Nigerian government is so powerful; the people are helpless. The same government the people elect with their votes punishes them unjustly. The people themselves behave as if they are in bondage. This was what happened in particular when the Port Harcourt Airport was being renovated. Travellers were abused. Airlines subjected them to enormous indignity. Businesses suffered. Government failed to keep its promise. The airlines and their staff even became arrogant, failing to realize they were victims too. They treated customers shabbily and there was no way anyone could blame them when government itself was uncaring.

Looked at differently, the biggest problem is not necessarily the politicians and their appointees who sashay in and out of power, but the civil servants who run the engine room of government and who over the years have perfected a culture of graft and incompetence. They look the other way when politicians dismantle the rules, often times out of sheer cruelty and for the better part, the political leaders are guided to do so by the civil servants. Which department of government is responsible for the maintenance of airports?: The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). I believe everybody in that agency should be lined up and caned publicly and investigated according to the law. Should they have any stories to tell about the poor state of Nigerian airports, despite the enormous amounts that are budgeted yearly, they should tell us as each stroke of the cane descends on their buttocks. I don’t consider corporal punishment a tool of governance, so I speak metaphorically, but the rot in the aviation section is so terrible, a feeling of outrage commands something extra-ordinary. Weigh that against the plane crashes, loss of lives, and the agony of air travel just because some incompetents have had to superintend over Nigeria’s aviation sector.

I am this outraged because a sad story is about to repeat itself. The Federal Government of Nigeria is proposing to shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, beginning March 8, for six weeks: to build a second runway and to carry out renovations. During the period, flights will be diverted to Kaduna Airport and passengers will be required to travel by rail or road to Abuja. The excuse is that the runway in Abuja is almost collapsing. The life span of a runway is 20 years and this particular runway in Abuja has been there for 34 years. Politicians come and go but one significant fellow has suddenly woken up in either the FAAN or the Ministry of Aviation and a proposal has been submitted for renovation. And that proposal is now causing so much commotion. All the characters responsible for this costly neglect and delay should be lined up and sanctioned, and that should include a thorough investigation into the possibility of this “new” project having being proposed, budgeted for and cash-backed before now. At what point did it occur to FAAN that the airport needs a second runway, and who is the brain behind the hair-brained proposal that is now before the public?

We have been told that for six weeks, flights will be diverted to the Kaduna airport. The Minister of State for Aviation (by the way, who is the Minister of Aviation?) has been quoted saying he wants “knowledge” as to how this can be managed. The Ministry has also summoned a meeting of stakeholders after taking the decision. This has been a classic case of acting before thinking, making it all appear ridiculous. The international airlines are insisting that they find this kind of thinking inconvenient. Truly so: Local airline operators are not excited either. The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) and the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) are protesting. Common sense, a scarce commodity at this time, should have dictated that a meeting of stakeholders should have been held before the decision was taken. But the arrogant position-holders took the decision first and then decided to invite the stakeholders as an after-thought. Ask these questions: is there an ulterior motive? Ignore common sense and present the public with a fait accompli? Is that their plan? Is politics, in the shape of further Northernization involved? And why? Make Kaduna a new hub? Shift aviation travel further North? The failure to maintain runways and observe best practices is a reflection of the Nigerian problem: our national nonsense. Besides, Nigeria is forever a victim of last minute decisions. We remember to think when it appears too late to do so. Conspiracy theories are thus enabled when those who should act rightly behave as if they are busy thinking with their orifices.
Get it: The decision to shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and move traffic to the Kaduna airport for six weeks has not been properly thought through. Poor thinking is the enemy of good governance. There is no guarantee to start with, that the renovation and rehabilitation can be completed in six weeks. Remember Port Harcourt and Owerri. We have been told nevertheless, that this is a good decision. But the timing is unwise. We are moving passengers to Kaduna at a time that same state and city is in turmoil. Thousands are being slaughtered daily in Southern Kaduna. The crisis has both religious and ethnic undertones. And now we are moving more Nigerians to the North, so they can get killed at the airport on or their way to Abuja? Who in his or her right senses would like to travel through Kaduna at this time?

A standard travel advisory should be: travel through Kaduna at your own risk and commit possible suicide. And to this: let no paid vuvuzela tell me the roads are safe and that the rail line to Abuja does not pass through Southern Kaduna. Also consider this: Government says it will provide buses. Who will bear the cost? Traveling from wherever to Kaduna to reach Abuja is likely to be more costly in every sense. Will the airlines bear the cost? Or the already aggrieved travellers will be subjected to extra cost and pain? Foreign airliners have already rejected the Kaduna airport. It is by every international standard a poor airport. It can’t even accommodate a crowd. Why would government subject travellers to obvious chaos and behave as if it does not matter. Copy this:

“The Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, however, said total closure of the Abuja airport runway was inevitable, judging from the worrisome level of dilapidation…. (I see)
The minister assured of adequate security of travellers on transit by road from Abuja to Kaduna and vice versa, adding that the Ministry of Defence, the Nigeria Police, National Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Directorate of State Security and other agencies will provide cover for airlines and passengers. (Really?)
“We’ll increase the number of security personnel around Kaduna Metropolis; we’ll have traffic officials in every village and intersection. There’ll be members of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), fire fighters and ambulances at certain strategic positions. Police and the Air Force are to provide aerial patrols, complemented by ground police. (Bribery and extortion loading…)

There will be intelligence gathering. There will be bus coaches, train services, specialised car hire services and helicopter shuttles from private operators. But government will provide shuttles for passengers,” he assured. (Talk is cheap, truly)

This is precisely why the Ministry of Aviation should reconsider its stand. Stakeholders including foreign airlines should be carried along before any further step is taken and that has to be in line with international best practices. Everybody involved should admit that we are dealing with a Nigerian crisis. Nigerians who travel by air don’t deserve to be punished. They have suffered enough already. The airlines can’t even get enough aviation fuel in Abuja, not to talk of Kaduna.

Let no one forget this: Abuja is a strategic city. Those who travel there do so with a purpose. It is the city of adventurers not settlers. It is the city of the Federal Government. People go there to sort out government matters including contracts and other matters. Shutting down the Abuja airport is like shutting down the city, and perhaps the entire country. The Ministry of Aviation makes it sound as if this is inevitable, but we must tell them, and tell them again, that the Kaduna airport is not ready and to repeat the Port Harcourt experience in Abuja would be sad and counter-productive. It is not for nothing that the international airlines are already protesting that they don’t want to go to Kaduna. The argument about fixing the runway to make it safer is okay, and we all know why nothing is ever properly maintained in this country, and why projects of six weeks end up taking one year, and more, so don’t tell me the obvious, but government decisions no matter how well-meaning, should be governed by good thinking. A mismanaged renovation of the Abuja airport could result in months of avoidable agony and disaster for the Nigerian economy.

Airport Closure: We’ll rather lose billions of dollars than risk lives, says FG

The federal government says it prefers to lose billions of dollars in revenue than to risk lives.

Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, said this on Monday, disclosing that Thursday had been slated for engaging stakeholders in the industry on  issues arising from the proposed closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Sirika had earlier announced closure of the airport for repairs on its runway.

He explained that Thursday’s meeting was a follow-up to the decision to temporarily shut down operations at the airport for six weeks in February and March.

According to the minister, the stakeholders’ forum will afford him with the opportunity to officially inform the sector’s players of the decision.

“It is also to brief them on efforts being made to ensure that the use of the Kaduna international airport as an alternative during the six-week closure of the Abuja Airport is seamless and hitch-free,” read the statement signed by James Odaudu, deputy director, press and public affairs, ministry of transportation.

“The stakeholders will also be expected to make their contributions and key into the plans to make their operations during the period less problematic.”

Sirika said the forum was in line with government’s belief in hearing people’s opinions in formulating and executing policies.

He said government is aware of the likely high level of discomfort and inconvenience the proposed closure of the airport would cause air transport passengers, airline operators and other service providers.

Sirika explained that the decision was informed by safety and security concerns.

The minister also disclosed that the ministry would invite other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as security agencies and the Kaduna state government who were expected to play roles during the six-week period.

FG To Close Abuja Airport For Six Weeks For Rehabilitation Of Runway

The Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, monday said the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) in Abuja would be closed between February and March next year to allow Julius Berger carry out repairs on the damaged runway.

Briefing journalists after an on-the-spot assessment of the runway, he said while the runway would still be put to use during the six months of rehabilitation, the airport would however be shut for six weeks between February and March, when the mid section of the runway would be reconstructed.

According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the reconstruction work through the emergency procurement procedure for work to commence because of the centrality and importance of Abuja to the general administration of the country.

He admitted that government cannot afford to close down Abuja airport for a long time, even though palliative repairs had been ongoing at the runway in the last three months.

The minister said: “From start to finish of the runway, it will take six months. However we will be using the runway almost throughout the period except for about six weeks when the runway will be closed. That is when we are going to do the mid-section of the runway.”

According to him, government had accepted the design done by the contractor, adding that the runway would last for more than 10 years on completion early next year.

On the six weeks closure of the airport to passenger traffic, he said Abuja bound passengers from any part of the world will use the Kaduna airport as alternative, explaining that robust arrangement had been finalised the with Kaduna State Government to convey the passengers to Abuja.

Sirika said: “It will cost government substantial amount of money but we thought in our wisdom that palliative approach is wrong because three years down, we will come back to do the same repairs therefore we decided to go for the bigger option which is to do structural repairs if the runway which will take about six months to complete.
The minister said the government was not unaware of the pains passengers are currently going through due to the non-availability of aviation fuel and the scarcity of foreign exchange which has also impacted on government finance.
While pleading for understanding, he said consultations were ongoing with oil marketers, the Ministry of Petroleum and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to resolve the crisis, adding: “Very soon, the country will be out of this, as we cannot be relying on Ghana for aviation fuel.”

Read More: thisdaylive

Union Stops Arik Passengers From Entering Abuja Airport Hall

Over 200 passengers of Arik Air were stopped from entering the departure hall of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Wednesday by angry aviation union members.

The passengers were directed to converge at the crowded ticketing counter of the airline despite passionate pleas by some of the travellers to the unionists.

Some of the angry union members stationed themselves at the way leading to the departure hall for outbound passengers, they checked the tickets of travellers who made their way to the departure hall and those with Arik Air tickets were turned back.

Our correspondent gathered that the union members arrived at the airport early and commenced the exercise of denying Arik Air passengers entry to the departure hall as early as 6.30am on Wednesday.

The situation dragged for several hours, a developmnt that forced the carrier to suspend its flight services on Wednesday.

Most of the affected passengers felt dejected as many of them were seen trying to catch another flight with a different airline, while others left.

“This is painful and I feel dejected already. Must we suffer this much in Nigeria? Can’t unions and businesses in their sphere of operations settle amicably without putting innocent citizens through untold hardship for once in this country? This is sad!,’ were the words of an affected traveller who simply gave his name as Greg.

The unions, it was gathered, were demanding that the airline should clear its about N12.5bn debt owed the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.

Similarly, the union members also stopped the carrier from carrying out its operations at the General Aviation Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

This was confirmed by the airline’s spokesperson, Mr. Banji Ola, who stated that the FAAN workers’ union on Wednesday morning blocked the operations of Arik Air at the GAT, Lagos.

Credit: Sun

This Woman Allegedly Vomits, Excretes 80 Wraps Of Cocaine At Abuja Airport

A 48 year-old woman caused a mild drama at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja after she allegedly vomitted 15 wraps of white, powdery substances that tested positive for cocaine.

Saidat Hassan, a mother of three,? was arrested at the central screening section of the departure hall during the screening of passengers on an Egypt Airline flight to Jedda, Saudi Arabia, en-route Cairo.

She was immediately apprehended by officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) who discovered that she had ingested 80 wraps of cocaine weighing 904 grammes, the agency said in a statement on Friday.

Hamisu Lawan, the NDLEA Abuja airport commander said efforts were made to protect her from any harm resulting from drug ingestion.

“As soon as we discovered that the suspected wraps she vomited tested positive for cocaine, we took measures to ensure her safety by preventing any harm that may result from drug ingestion,” said Mr. Lawan.

“While under observation, she excreted sixty-five similar wraps. In all, she ingested 80 wraps of cocaine weighing 904 grammes; her case is under investigation.”

Mohammad Abdallah, the? NDLEA Chairman, who expressed satisfaction with her arrest said her action negates every principle of good parenting.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Wanted Boko Haram Suspect Nabbed At Abuja Airport

A suspected Boko Haram member on the list of wanted 100 terrorists whose photographs and names were recently released by the military was on Sunday arrested at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja (NAIA) by AVSEC, the security arm of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The suspect, Chindo Bello, was arrested while attempting to obtain his boarding pass for an Aero Contractor airline flight to Lagos. He is currently being interrogated by the military intelligence.

Sunday’s arrest is the second in recent times at the Abuja Airport, coming less than two months after a combined team of the military and FAAN officials nabbed a young man said to be monitoring movements at the airport for Boko Haram.

Confirming the arrest, the Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, said: “The declaration of 100 suspected Boko Haram terrorists has started to pay the desired dividend as one of them was arrested as he attempted to flee.

“Today at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, a man suspected to be one of the declared wanted suspected Boko Haram terrorists, Chindo Bello, was apprehended by Aviation Security as he was boarding Aero Contractors’ Airline flight to Lagos. The suspect has since been handed over to the military intelligence for interrogation and prosecution.”

The army spokesman commended those he described as eagle-eyed, patriotic security agents and good citizens for the tip-off that led to the arrest of the suspect.

Credit: ThisDay