4 July 2014

Nigeria: Uzodinma Explains Shutting Down of Abuja Airport

Sen. Hope Uzodinma, Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, on Friday said that the planned shutdown of the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, was purely for maintenance purpose.

Uzodinma made this known when he spoke with State House correspondents after a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the runaway would be closed between midnight on Saturday, July 5and Monday, July 7 to allow the contractor, Julius Berger, repair the pot holes on it.

"This is being done for obvious safety reasons. We have some potholes that are already seen as serious hazards," he said.

According to him, it is the only runway that lands our president, all the VIPs and investors that come into this country.

Uzodinma said the maintenance followed a technical audit by the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in keeping with international regulations.

He said the committee held meetings with the Minister of Aviation and the airlines and agreed that from 12 o'clock on Saturday midnight till Monday the airport would be closed

The senate committee chairman said the closure was to give Julius Berger enough time to repair the runway.

"So, it is just for pure maintenance programme based on safety reasons and it is welcome by all of us."

On alternative landing places, he said that the Kaduna and Mina airports were the closest, adding that travellers would choose either of them based on their convenience.

"All over the world they know that we have one runway in Abuja. The next thing anybody can do is to look for the nearest airport close to Abuja.

"And whatever may be the case between midnight Saturday and Monday, it's not something anybody can cry about.

"All over the world, airports and runways are usually closed whenever there are obvious maintenance programmes that bother on safety. So, our own should not be an exception."

Uzodinma, who also spoke on the proposed national carrier for the country, said that government could no longer run businesses meant for the private sector.

"So, for us to have a national carrier, it is an airline that government must own 100 per cent and I doubt whether the government has the managerial and technical capability to begin to float an airline in an economy that is being privatised.

"Rather, it can copy from the United States, France, Britain where they have national flag carrier.

"In this situation, what happens is that private people will own the airline and government will continue to support and then they will carry our flag.

"It is important to see airline that is carrying our flag," he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that FAAN announced the shutdown on Wednesday in a statement issued by its spokesman, Yakubu Dati.

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