By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has assured that the Kaduna International Airport will be fully ready for operations during the six weeks closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Sirika stated this while briefing newsmen during an inspection tour of the Airport on Friday in Kaduna.
He said that the existing 500 passenger capacity Hajj Terminal would be used with additional contingency plan in the event that the main terminal building under construction was not completed.
The minister also assured that the terminal building under construction which is at completion stage would meet the March 8 deadline.
He explained that the current arrangement was a “force majur” in case the terminal building could not be completed before the six weeks period.
“From what we have seen including the tiling, the furniture and everything that is in place, the terminal building will be ready before the due date.
“But just in case like in aviation, we always provide for fail safe and redundant equipment, and we are ready for eventuality in case something may come up that we may not be able to resolve,” he said.
Sirika said the runway was in perfect shape with the age light marking and every part was ready for operation.
He added that the control tower had been built with the radio installed, adding that it will be ready in two or three weeks.
“Just in case that failed to be accomplished, there is the fire service watch tower and if that fails also, they have the mobile tower which is in Abuja that will be moved down during the period.
“You can see that in terms of preparedness and readiness of Kaduna airport to receive this task, the airport is ready,” he said.
Sirika disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved money for the rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna express way, adding that the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing would commence work immediately.
On security, he said that the federal government, in collaboration with Kaduna State Government would provide additional security around the airport, Kaduna metropolis and enroute Abuja.
According to him, aviation security will be enhanced within and outside the airport as well as ambulances and helicopter patrol by the security forces along the road from Kaduna to Abuja.
“Our responsibility is to ensure that the operation is smooth and we are committed to doing that and it is not just reaction it is about action.
“The government is providing free bus and train services to air passengers and helicopter services will be available for those that can afford it,” he said.
The minister debunked the report that airlines rejected Kaduna airport, stating that they raised some concerns that will be addressed before the due date.
He also assured that their fears and concerns would be addressed promptly, adding that the six weeks operation will be a seamless one.
Mr Muhammed Joji, Chairman, Abuja-Kaduna Airport Transit Committee, said the operation would be successful.
Joji, who is also the Managing Director, Skypower Express Airways, said the committee had the responsibility of ensuring that all security issues were identified and addressed.
He added that the security issues around the communities around the airport had been handled with immediate reconstruction of the vandalised perimeter fencing.
According to him, the committee had held meeting with the local landlords on the issue of security in order to help the security agencies.
“As far as the movement is concerned, we will ensure that the money provided is properly utilised to achieve the desired results,” he said.
The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister recently announced the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for comprehensive repair of the runway.