6 March 2018

Nigeria: Why International Status for Akanu Ibiam Airport Is Being Delayed - Govt

Enugu — The Federal Government has said that for the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu, to operate full international flights, certain security threats created by property owners must be removed and enhancement of infrastructure must be achieved.

Although it restated its commitment to ensure the realisation of an international status for the airport with the release of N1.7 billion for the continuation of construction work at its international wing, it stated that its internationalisation would continue to be delayed until the state government addressed certain lapses that had hindered progress of work.

Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, who stated this yesterday after an inspection tour of facilities at the airport, told Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi that the Federal Government was poised to address inadequacies at the airport, adding that a huge amount had been voted into the 2018 budget for completion of work at the place.

He, however, said that such could only make a meaning with the removal and relocation of several property obstructing the expansion of the runway, security and flight operations. He said the belief that government was not committed to the project was wrong.

Sirika, who listed the offending property to include the multi- million naira Enugu free trade zone, which foundation laying was performed in 2016 by the state governor, the Orie Emene market, masts belonging to a television and radio stations, residential buildings as well as fencing of the airport, stated that the free trade zone had not only obstructed the runway, but was badly located and sought its relocation.

The minister, who lamented the level of encroachment at the airport, stated that the runway expansion, which the incumbent administration embarked upon, had been hampered by encroachment.

He said that unless the security concerns at the airport were addressed, the certification of the airport to an international status would not be possible and called on the state government to do the needful as he would do all in his ability to ensure that Enugu was given its rightful status.

Ugwuanyi, who told the minister that he would do all in his capacity to ensure that the airport gets an international status to enhance Enugu's economic and social status, pleaded with the minister to put the request in writing as quickly as possible to facilitate quick resolution of issues raised.

"If I don't realise the completion, then Enugu would have lost its status. I would do all in my power to relocate every obstructing property as well as the free trade zone because that airport is Enugu's pride," the governor said.


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