The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the logistics of relocating aviation activities from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to Kaduna Airport would cost N1.1 billion.
Mr. Sirika made this known while briefing the Senate on Tuesday in Abuja on the issues surrounding the proposed six-week diversion of airport operations to Kaduna for rehabilitation of Abuja airport to be done.
He said that the ministry took into account, all relevant agencies that would be deployed to facilitate the diversion to Kaduna.
It would be recalled that last week, the Senate could not reach a conclusion with the ministry on the issues, especially the cost of the movement.
Giving a breakdown of the cost, the minister disclosed that Nigerian Railway Corporation would get N100.3million, Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, N237.2 million, and the Police, N358.5 million.
He added that Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, would receive N325 million for its role in the operations.
Mr. Sirika explained that relocating operations to Kaduna for the period of the repairs at Abuja airport was inevitable as it would be difficult of a passenger plane to land and take off in a construction site.
According to him, for a passenger plane to be landing and taking off in a construction site that has debris and construction equipment is not safe.
On whether the taxiway at the Abuja airport could be used as a runway for the period of repair, Sirika said: “our taxiway was not constructed to take the impact of landings and taking off at a time.
“And, to upgrade it, the taxiway is in between the buildings and the runway – there is a minimum safe distance that the taxiway between the building and the runway could be utilised for this purpose.”
Also speaking, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said that the briefing was “a demonstration of open and accountable governance by the executive and legislative arms of government.”
He said section 14, sub-section 2 of the 1999 Constitution “stipulates that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose for which government exists.
“For the benefits of Nigerians who may be listening, it is the runway of the airport where planes take off and land that needs to be repaired.
“And, because it is no longer safe for that purpose by extension, therefore, the airport cannot be used. This is a matter of immense public safety.”
According to Mr. Fashola, government needs to take this kind of proactive action to forestall and prevent loss of lives.
Contributing, Bala Na’Allah (APC-Kebbi) said that the primary responsibility of parliamentarians was to reduce the cost of governance, adding that “it is more so that we are going through this process”.
According to him, the idea that the Port Harcourt Airport was closed for one year could not be a justification to convince the Senate that the Abuja airport must be closed for six weeks.
On his part, Barnabas Gemade (APC-Benue) said that there was no need for a ten-year life span for the maintenance of the airport.
“What we need is a maintenance that will give us a sufficient leeway to construct a second runway.
“And, for a contractor who will be willing to cooperate with this nation to build a second runway at the optimum cost and not a N64 billion second runway, we need to take decisions by ourselves.
“We do not need people from other parts of the world to dictate to us how to run this country,’’ Gemade said.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, appealed to stakeholders that while they took final decisions on the matter, they should also consider the position of the senate.
“The best interest of Nigerians should also be taken into cognisance,” he advised.
Mr. Ekweremadu said that the Senate preferred segmented repairs on the runway of the airport to avoid its total closure.
He, however, admitted that the minister of transportation could take decisions based on the technical advice proffered by various stakeholders.