By Salawudeen Olawale
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says the six-week timeline for the reopening of the Abuja Airport is sacrosanct and there is no plan to extend the date.
The minister who made the clarification at an Aviation Roundtable on Monday in Lagos said the media report that government had extended the closure by 18 months was erroneous.
“Let me use this opportunity to debunk the erroneous report making the rounds that the closure of the Abuja airport has been extended by 18 weeks.
“This is not true. The six-week timeline for the closure remains. After six weeks, the Abuja airport will be reopened.
“The remaining work on the runway will not necessitate the closure of the airport,” he said.
Mohammed disclosed that the roundtable was in continuation of government interaction with major stakeholders on the closure of the airport and the temporary diversion of flights to Kaduna International Airport.
He recalled that the Abuja airport was closed on March 8, to pave the way for the reconstruction of its sole runway, which has not been maintained as it should be in its over 30 years of existence.
The minister disclosed that the reconstruction of the airport runway was nearing its halfway mark and that they were on course to re-open it for flight operations on schedule.
He added that the government had done everything possible to ensure the comfort, safety and security of the travelling public during the six-week closure.
“Transportation from Abuja to Kaduna and vice versa is free for air passengers and security along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway is such that there is a presence of security agents at short intervals.
“The expressway itself has been rehabilitated to ensure a smooth ride.
“I can tell you that having travelled on that road at least twice since the relocation, that the ride is smooth.
“The safety and security of passengers at the Kaduna airport are paramount and guaranteed, as have been attested to by many,” he said.
The minister appealed to the travelling public to bear the minimal discomfort they could be experiencing as a result of the relocation.
Speaking in the same vein, the Minister of State (Aviation), Hadi Sirika, said the entire procurement for the renovation took six months but the closure of the airport for the repair of the runway is six weeks.
Sirika said about three weeks into the project, he was satisfied with the progress of work and optimistic that it would be delivered on schedule.
The minister added that they recently released N150 million to the contractor to bring in some equipment needed for prompt completion of the project.
Earlier, the President of the Aviation Roundtable, Gbenga Olowo, said the body consists of stakeholders concerned about the advancement of the nation’s aviation industry.