The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Tuesday, has said the Easter deadline proposed for the rehabilitation of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, is no longer feasible.
Mr Sirika, who made the announcement when he inspected the airport, said procurement was suspended because workers of the construction company, PW, handling the project left the site to be with their families owing to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic ravaging the world.
The minister who was accompanied by the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Rabiu Yadudu, stated that “92-93 percent of the work at the Enugu airport has been completed”.
According to him, “the work would have been completed in a few weeks time, but the workers left to be with their families in view of the social distancing protocol.
“But considering that the construction workers have downed tools owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government hereby officially announces suspension of procurement”.
He added that the remaining work at the airport will only require 15 days to be completed when the workers return to site.
Maintaining that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was fully determined to complete the rehabilitation of Enugu airport to international standard before Easter, Mr Sirika explained that the circumstances the nation has found itself, regarding the escalating threat of COVID-19 globally, has made it impossible for the federal government to meet the deadline.
The minister pointed out that though the federal government had closed the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, alongside others, as one of the proactive measures to contain the spread of the deadly disease, such a necessary decision couldn’t have affected the ongoing work at the airport if not that the company’s workers downed tools.
Mr Sirika disclosed that the federal government introduced “glass mesh” in the Enugu airport runway to strengthen it and help in retaining the structure for a very long time, stressing that the new technology, before now, was only introduced at the Abuja airport.
“Many other issues like the Cargo for this airport, other infrastructure, the terminal building under rehabilitation including the air conditioner system in the new international airport being built by the Chinese and of course the perimeter fencing, drainage and water supply, among others, will all be completed in this airport.”
He, therefore, commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, other South East Governors and stakeholders, for their sacrifice and commitment towards the rehabilitation of the Enugu airport and appealed for understanding on the part of the people of the Southeast geo-political zone, expressing hope that the issue of COVID-19 would be resolved soon.
Also present at the event include the Enugu Airport Manager, Cecilia Oguama, the Chairman, South East Governors’ Forum Airport Rehabilitation/Palliative Works Committee, Chris Okoye, Enugu State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Greg Nnaji, his information counterpart, Nnanyelugo Aroh, among others.