The Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says he will mount countdown clock at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to track the six-week deadline for the repair of its runway.
Sirika disclosed this on Tuesday while addressing newsmen led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed on inspection of Kaduna Airport.
He said the move was to convey to the contractor, the seriousness of the government towards meeting the April 19 deadline for the reopening of the Abuja airport.
Sirika who stressed that the six-week completion deadline was sacrosanct, expressed satisfaction with the pace of work by the contractor.
He stressed that the progress of work was encouraging and the contractor was working according to schedule.
“I am going to put a huge countdown clock at the entrance of the airport and the construction site to show that we are serious.
“We will also put it on the contractor’s desk as well as the consultant to remind them that six weeks is six weeks.
“After six weeks, we will move back flight operations to Abuja while Kaduna remains.
“We have also got commitment from the contractor that the runway under repair would last in excess of ten years when completed,’’ he said.
The minister disclosed that plans were underway to build a second runway in Abuja airport, if the project was approved in the budget.
He explained that the ministry had commenced the process of getting the project included in the 2017 appropriation bill.
He assured that if the ministry secured the approval, the second runway would be ready in 24 months.
The minister restated the commitment of government to concession the Abuja airport and other ones across the country for effective management and operation.
Sirika expressed satisfaction with the operations of local and international flights, security arrangement and free transportation of passengers at Kaduna airport.
He said government had kept its promise to make the operations at the airport seamless and to cushion the effects of the diversion on passengers.
The minister said that government was currently talking with some local entrepreneurs to commence direct international flights from Kaduna to London since most foreign airlines were yet to use the airport.
“We are already talking to some Nigeria entrepreneurs and we are also talking to some international airline that would provide the airplanes that we will use,’’ he said.
On his part, Mohammed said that the purpose of the visit was to avail the media with first-hand information and assessment of operations at the Kaduna airport.
The minister expressed satisfaction with the operation at the airport and the arrangement put in place to alleviate the inconveniences the movement had forced on passengers and airline operators.
He stressed that there was no alternative to closing down the Abuja airport for total reconstruction of the failing runway to forestall dire consequences.
“No doubt it has brought about hardship to people but as a government, we have tried to minimize the hardship.
“The government has put in place to the best of its ability, arrangement that will ensure and guarantee safety,’’ he said. (NAN)