Following president Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the sum of N10 billion Special Intervention Fund for immediate repairs and upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, the minister of Aviation, Sen Hadi Sirika, yesterday said the airport would be completed in six months time.
According to Sirika, adequate provisions have been made to ensure that construction work at the airport end by April 2020.
Sirika stated this while speaking to journalists after he defended the 2020 budget before the Senate Committee on Aviation. Sirika also said that the much the talked about National Carrier would soon take off as adequate arrangement is being made.
The minister further disclosed that his Ministry is waiting for the approved money, adding that the time for the procurement certainly will be before Easter.
He said: “We are waiting for the release and I am sure it will be released very soon. We are meeting with the contractor. He will give us his programme of work; we will look at it diligently and ensure it is procured within the time and within the budget. The time for the procurement certainly will be before Easter.”
Speaking on the National Career, Sirika said: “Of course I have been consistent in this national carrier. It is coming very soon. We have finished the outline business case which had been duly considered by Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and passed.
“They are back to us now and we have set up a committee as required by law and by the programme and we will go to the market very soon and once we are in the market, we will procure.”
We also ensured the training and retraining of our personnel, train and retrain those who man the airplanes, to regulate them, to ensure they are doing the right things and at the right time and that they are proficient enough to be able to handle the operations safely.
“That is why you see all the might and weight and budget and purse of the civil aviation ministry is geared towards all those critical items that ensure safe operations are being dealt with.”
He said that President Buhari’s government has been able to correct the distortion of Abuja and Lagos international airport master plans. He disclosed that federal government has been able to deliver Port Harcourt and Abuja airports, adding that Kano airport will be delivered in December and hopefully, Lagos by March.
He said: “In fact, two of the new terminals (Port Harcourt and Abuja) constructed by CCECC which were inaugurated last year are already in full operation while Lagos and Kano would in a short while follow suit.”
Earlier, in his budget defence, Sirika explained that for 2020, the sum of N41.8 billion was proposed for capital expenditure.
In his remark, acting chairman of the Committee, Sen Bala Na’Allah said: “I have seen the challenges for the new airport in Abuja and Port Harcourt. How did we get involved in this multi-billion dollar project without first sitting down to look at all these issues for concession before the construction of the projects?
We must begin to avoid the challenges by putting round pegs in round holes.”