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

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

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.

South African Airways to suspend Abuja operations during runway repair

South African Airways yesterday said it plans to suspend its Abuja operations during the six weeks period of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport runway repair.

The Guardian learnt that the airline, in a letter to the authorities, said the measure became imperative following its decision not to fly to Kaduna Airport, designated to serve all Abuja-bound aircraft during the closure.

The implication of the temporary suspension of operations is that passengers of the airline can only board in Lagos and contend with limited flight options, while paying more for travel expenses.

President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bernard Bankole, warned that allowing the airlines to suspend operations would be a bad omen for the sector, with effects lasting longer than the six weeks duration.

Bankole said instead of South African Airways and other foreign airlines suspending operations, the Federal Government should rather divert foreign traffic to Lagos, while domestic operators go to Kaduna airport.

South African Airways said its last flight into Abuja would be on March 6, while the Federal Government will close the airport on March 8.

It was gathered that the airline has already sent the notice of its position to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika. The letter to Sirika, from South African Airways by its Acting Chief Commercial Officer, Aaron Munetsi, said the operations to Abuja would resume on April 18, 2017.

According to Munetsi, “SAA commends the Nigerian authorities concerning the planned repairs of the NAIA runway. However, due to network and fleet operations planning, SAA regrets to advise that the airline will suspend its Abuja operations with effect from 6th March until the 18th April, 2017,” the letter read in part.

The airline said it would be in constant touch with the Nigerian aviation authorities as the repair work progresses in order to establish its readiness for revised operations in accordance with its work schedule.

President of NANTA, Bankole said that the civil unrest in Kaduna worries the foreign airlines and their affiliated travel agencies, leaving none satisfied with the security provision of the Federal Government.

He said it would not augur well for the international carriers to divert to Kaduna. And to prevent them from suspending operations, the option of diverting foreign airlines to Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, should be considered.

In his words, “The international carriers will not joke with the lives of their passengers. Most of the airlines arrive at night and will not risk night travel by road anywhere in the country.

“The danger of them leaving us for six weeks is much. With the way airlines run, they will not take off their plane and allow it idle for six weeks. Rather, the planes will be redeployed to other routes and they may just not come back to Nigeria.

“Instead of loosing the slots and carriers, it is better to allow them fly to Lagos in the interim, while domestic airlines partner with the foreign ones to redistribute their passengers to Kaduna and other places,” Bankole said.


Source: Guardian

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.

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.”

FG to shut Abuja airport for 6 weeks to repair damaged runway – Minister

Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, says the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, will be closed for six weeks between February and March 2017.

Addressing reporters on Monday, Sirika said the closure was to allow Julius Berger carry out total reconstruction on the badly damaged airport runway.

He said while the runway would still be put to use under the six months of rehabilitation, the six weeks would allow the mid-section of the runway to be reconstructed.

Sirika said President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the reconstruction through the emergency procurement procedure for work to commence.

This, according to him, is because of the centrality, economy and the importance of Abuja to the general administration of the country.

He said government could not afford to close down Abuja airport for a long time as palliative repairs had been ongoing at the runway in the last three months.

“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,” he said.

“That is when we are going to do the mid-section of the runway. The government has accepted the design done by the contractor. The runway will last for than 10 years on completion early next year.”

Sirika said Abuja-bound passengers from any part of the world would use Kaduna airport as alternative during the six-week closure to passengers.

He said arrangement had been finalised with Kaduna, adding that while the federal government would provide buses to convey the passengers to Abuja, the state government would provide security.

According to Sirika, it will cost government substantial amount of money “but we think 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 of the runway which will take about six months to complete.”

On the bilateral air agreement with other countries, Sirika said government had signed BASA with 18 countries that Nigerians frequently visit and do business with.

The MOUs, he said, would give Nigeria the opportunity to operate air services with 18 countries.

“With this, we have the freedom to fly and land safely in other air space and this will assist in opening our market,” he said.

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

Abuja, Lagos new terminals to take extra N5bn – Sirika

Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has faulted the locations of the new terminals simultaneously under construction at two of the busiest airports in the country, describing them as wrongly sited.

Sirika, who was short of describing the projects as a waste of fund, said the new terminal in Abuja alone would require the sum of N5billion to sort out the mess created by the error in location.

In a related development, more stakeholders have bought into the plan to have airports in the country concessioned to private investors for improved efficiency and profitability.

The minister, who spoke to stakeholders earlier in the week, explained that the current administration was almost at a dilemma on what to do with the terminals at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and Murtala Muhammed International, Lagos.

This may not be unconnected with their obstructions of other facilities at the two airports. While the terminal in Abuja is directly blocking the control tower and fire station, that of Lagos is sitting on heavy cables that are servicing the entire area.

Recall that the last administration approved the construction of the two terminals, along with two others in a 2003 China and Nigeria loan deal, put at $500million. The projects are handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and ought to have been delivered since March 2015.

Sirika, who was clarifying the status of the Lagos new terminal, said the terminal is part of a loan of $400 million from China and $100 million counterpart funding from Nigeria.

He said: “The Abuja terminal that is nearing completion is blocking the control tower and fire service station. Because it has been built, we need to knockdown the N3billion-worth of control tower and also knock down the fire station, which will cost about N2billion. Same problem with the Lagos terminal that is sitting on heavy cables. That is the situation we have found ourselves.

“If I have that $500 million, I will use it to develop the Murtala Muhammed Airport as hub of aviation in Nigeria and West Africa,” the minister said.

Also recall that the international terminal at MMIA, Lagos, had lately been experiencing power outages, which the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) kept blaming on construction work at the nearby new terminal.

But while the government continues to mitigate effects of the terminals’ poor siting, more stakeholders, except the workers’ unions, have continued to queue behind efforts to reposition the aviation sector, primarily centred on airport concession.

Concession will concede the operation of the airport to a private entity under an agreement with the government.

Latest to endorse the plan are industry players like veteran pilot and Managing Director (MD) of Aeroconsult, Capt. Dele Ore, MD of Med-View Airlines, Muneer Bankole, and his counterpart at IRS Airlines, Ishiaku Rabiu Ishiaku.

Ore, who led the flurry of buy-ins, said that Sirika is now listening to what they had asked for years and quite commendable.

His words: “We can see that you (Minister) are looking at the recommendations that we have made in the past and are implementing it, but it is not being done totally and we urge you to go back and look at our recommendations and totally implement it.”

Bankole, who looked at it from the aspect of service provision, said all that the airlines wanted was good service and if it takes concession of facilities to achieve it, then so be it.

“In my capacity and on behalf of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), all we want is service. I speak on behalf of my colleagues. Most of us have been out of the country and know what entails in terms of service delivery.

“We do not get that kind of service here because of the way things are. We need to let you all know that out there, service is provided and if it would take concessioning of airports for us to get the kind of service that would make us at par with others then by all means concession because the status quo is nothing to write home about,” he said.

Ishiaku, on his part, said that the concession plan was an opportunity for Nigeria, as a country, to finally get it right.

He noted that aviation has moved ahead of the country in leaps and bounds, adding that concession, to address the infrastructure deficit, are the way to go, as only then would the country take its place among the comity of aviation nations.

A Public Private Partnership (PPP) expert, Dr. Chukwuma Katchy, however, attributed the failure of previous concession agreements to lack of proper knowledge on how such agreements work.

Katchy observed that some of the concessionaires, who are in the private sector and saw the knowledge-gap on Nigerian side, were smart enough to write the terms of agreement that in most cases favoured them on the long run.

Kanye West’s Yeezy S4 Launch Soiled As Models Fall On Runway (WATCH)

Kanye West left onlookers unimpressed with the launch of his Yeezy season four collection. The Fade rapper debuted his latest clothing collection on Roosevelt Island, New York on 7 September but the New York Fashion Week show descended into chaos before it even began.

The show, which took place in the gardens of an abandoned hospital, had been due to start at 3pm but guests were reportedly kept waiting for about two hours.

Guests, models and others involved in the launch had been told to meet at 1.30pm to take buses to the location but the lengthy delay meant they were waiting for a total of four hours. It is said that those on the coaches suffered boredom with the lack of entertainment and even food or water.

With the focus firmly on West’s new pieces, it probably wasn’t the best idea to design shoes which the models couldn’t walk in. Footage taken by guests shows various models stumbling, wobbling, falling over and ultimately throwing the heels off their feet as they struggled to strut down the catwalk. On one model, it looked as though the heels on a pair of thigh-high black boots had bent and collapsed while other muses seemed to walk extremely slow for fear of suffering the same fate.

Matters were only made worse by the scorching heat. Models were seen sitting at times to cool themselves down in the delay while there were several reports of the runway queens fainting. One guest tweeted alongside a photo: “A model needed water. The poor models. This is cruelty,” while another post read: “Model passed out in the heat is given water by man in the audience but no one on the #YeezySeason4 team helps.”

Credit: ibtimes

Military Aircraft Skids Off Runway In Yola

A military aircraft skidded off the runway while landing at the Air Force Base in Yola, the Adamawa state capital.

Sources in the Aviation Sector say no casualty was recorded in the incident but that the aircraft lost a tyre in the incident.

This incident is coming five months after an Air Force aircraft, NAF801, belonging to the Nigerian Air Force, crashed in Hong, Adamawa State.

The Director, Defence Information, Colonel Abubakar Rabe, confirmed this to Channels Television.

The plane was said to be returning from an interdicted mission when it went down due to bad weather.

Only the pilot is said to have died in the accident.

Credit: ChannelsTv