The Senate on Thursday urged the federal government and the Federal Ministry of Aviation not to consider downgrading Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu State.
It also asked the aviation ministry to return generators taken from the airport.
The call was sequel to a motion titled “threat to downgrade Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu” sponsored by Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra Central) and 16 other senators.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had on May 17, said the federal government may downgrade the airport from handling international operations.
This, he said, is because of the government’s inability to expand the runway. He also said there were some developments around the airport that posed security and safety threat to flight operations.
According to him, the state government decided to situate its free trade zone, market and radio mast too close to the runway which, he said, is against international safety standard.
Leading the debate, Mr Umeh said the upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport was not only historic but made South Easterners heave a sigh of relief and gave them a sense of belonging.
The lawmaker decried the poor state of the airport and the delay by necessary authorities to fix it.
“Akanu Ibiam International Airport is the only International Airport in the entire South East of Nigeria and not much have been done in giving the airport a face lift that befits an International Airport in terms of standard structures and other facilities that will enhance smooth operation.
“Currently the Airport has only one runway which is in bad shape, having been patched, and lacks the second runway that should serve as an alternative in keeping with international standard.
“The runway of the airport awarded to PW PLC was carried out without internal drains which is affecting the stability of the runway, making it to crack and develop port holes.
“The only source of water supply to the airport is supplies from tankers, fire Service vans and the reservoir which cannot stand the test in time of emergency unlike other airports that have constant water supplies,” he explained.
In his contribution, Shehu Sani noted that the airport is not being used by people from the South East alone and it is important that the required work be done.
While stating that the airport should not be downgraded, he explained that it is strategic for economic development.
“I think it should be upgraded to what it needs to be. What is good for other parts of the country is also good for Enugu,” he said.
While Barau Jibrin suggested that the ministry of aviation be pressured into constructing the runway, Tayo Alasoadura said a new and befitting airport should be constructed.
The new airport, he said, will serve the South East, Middle Belt and North Central.
The Senate thereafter, urged the federal government to rehabilitate the runway of the airport for the safety of passengers and aircrafts.
It also asked the federal government to take steps to complete the new terminal building of the Enugu International Airport and put it to use by local and foreign airlines as well as develop a water source with the nearby Ekulu River for the use of the Airport.
The lawmakers also urged the aviation ministry to return generators allegedly taken from the Enugu airport to the Port Harcourt airport.