By Sumaila Ogbaje/Rotimi Ijikami
The Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja runway repairs is 57 per cent completed and the April 19 reopening date is sacrosanct.
Sirika disclosed this during a media tour led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the airport on Thursday.
He said that the project was being executed by the contractor in accordance with the laid down programme of work, reiterating that there would be no need for time extension.
“The contractor has been fully mobilized and he has done as much as 57 per cent of the work, which is good and it shows that we are on course.
“It also shows that we are on time and it means that we are doing what we are supposed to do to ensure that the runway is opened come April 19.
“As you could see, this is brand new asphalt being laid and it is finished and we have also gone far into the third part of the runway.
“If you go over there you will also see that we have started the middle light of the runway. So we are doing the work simultaneously.
“We have even started the lightening with the cutting and channels for the wires and we will continue so that we complete and achieve the target given.
“The central light up installation commenced on Tuesday and now they have gone far and as we progress, we will continue towards the runway 022,“ he said.
The minister explained that the first segment which is 1.2 kilometers has been completed, while asphalt was being laid on the second segment of 2.4 kilometers.
He also disclosed that the runway was being rebuilt with new and improved technology known as the Glass Fibre Grid to give it strength and prevent it from cracking.
According to him, this is the first time that a Nigerian runway is being treated with such material and the material is 50 toners to cover the entire runway.
“We are on course and I am glad to say so because this airport will be reopened with the terminal building wearing a new look.
“The closure of this airport also means that we will improve on the terminal to make it more robust and create a seamless flow of international and local passengers.
“The airport will be more compliant with the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard and best practices and will be more efficient at the time it is going to be reopened,’’ he said.
Sirika also disclosed that about 50 international flights had been operated out of Kaduna airport with about 4,000 international passengers within three weeks.
He added that about 73,000 domestic passengers had been moved with about 1,119 aircraft movements for domestic.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the essence of the tour was to enable the media have firsthand information on the level of work on the runway.
Mohammed added that it was to reassure the public that the six weeks closure of the airport would not be extended.