Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, says the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, has totally failed and is a disaster waiting to happen. Sirika gave the warning when he received the Coalition for Civil Society Group in Abuja on Friday. He said the government was determined to ensure safety and avoid disaster in the sector, maintaining that closure of the airport for six week remained the only viable option.
He said many critical stakeholders in the industry, including Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN), had agreed with the decision of the government, and that the Nigerian Society of Engineers was the only body that had opposed the decision.
“The Abuja airport runway is completely damaged, the entire structure and the architecture is gone and the runway has failed and it is just a disaster waiting to happen,” he said. “No matter what it is, I will not sit back and fold my arms and watch disaster unfold while I superintend.
“I believe that it is an executive function which should be carried out and I believe also that we should be responsible for our actions and inactions. “If I don’t do anything, it becomes inaction and will be equal to disaster. “If I act appropriately to save it, I will be meeting the expectations of the person who appointed me and of course the expectation of the Nigerian people that we serve.”
He asked the members of civil society groups with engineering background to examine the runway and possibly carry out integrity test on it to ascertain its condition. Sirika said different options recommended by stakeholders were not good options to be considered based on the deplorable nature of the runway.
“It is a job of six months with the procurement start to finish but within these six months, there will be six weeks closure of the runway,” he said. “We will close it and we will be working day and night to ensure that we deliver the project and it will be six weeks and six weeks no more.
“We have done some study and found out that, 90 percent of people who are coming into Abuja may probably travel only once within six weeks, and may be only one per cent travel every other day or daily. “Another two per cent who travel every week but some may not even travel at all in six weeks. “This statistic is generous enough to say that 90 percent travel once in six week and this statistics is proven and we chose Kaduna as alternate airport.”