Senate Invites Amaechi, Fashola, Others Over Abuja Airport |The Republican News

Onyedi Ojiabor

THE Senate yesterday summoned the Minister of Transportation Chibuike Amaechi, Works, Power and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola and Minister of State for Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika over the Federal Government’s plan to shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja for repairs of its runway.
Others also invited to the meeting by the Senate Committee on Aviation within two days include Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Chief of Air Staff and the Managing Directors of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Those invited are required to meet with the committee to provide details on the planned closure as well as to explore other options, rather than a total closure of the airport.
The invitation followed the adoption of a motion on “The planned closure of the Abuja Airport”, which was sponsored by Senator Hope Uzodinma (lmo West) and five others.
Uzodinma, in his lead debate, prayed the Senate to note with concern the decision of FAAN to close the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for six weeks beginning from March 6.
Read more: Abuja Airport:Nigeria Will Lose N2bn As FG Shuts Runway, Stakeholders Reject Kaduna As Alternative
The lawmaker noted that he was informed that the essence of the said closure is to carry out repairs on the only runway at the airport, which is reported to be in a deplorable state.
He expressed worry that a six-week outright closure of a major and the only airport in the nation’s Federal Capital could trigger untold hardships on international and local air travellers and consequently dent the nation’s image.
He noted that a complete shut-down of the airport would impact negatively on international trade and related activities, with a multiplier effect that could exact further pressure on an already recessed national economy.
Uzodinma said the diversion of Abuja bound flights to Kaduna will throw up logistics and security challenges, including endangering the lives and properties of international and local air travelers, who will be forced to travel by land from Kaduna to Abuja.
He noted that he was satisfied that all the options have not been exhausted to avoid the shutdown of the airport, including the option of a technical package to allow skeletal air operations at the airport while most repair work on the runway is executed at night.
The senator added that major repairs in the past have been carried out without closure of the airport. “One more major repair without closure will afford the government the needed time for the construction of a second run-way as a permanent solution,” he said.
The government, he said, should be prevailed upon to explore other possible options that could avert the planned total closure of a strategic national airport as Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport with all its attendant consequences, including breach of international conventions and treaties.
Uzodinma prayed that Senate to accordingly resolve to invite the Minister of Transportation, Minister of State, Aviation, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Minister of FCT, the Chief of Air Staff and the Managing Director FAAN and NAMA to meet with the Senate and provide details on the planned closure as well as to explore other options that can avoid a total closure of the airport.
The prayer was unanimously adopted. (The Nation)

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