Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Thursday, said that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu would be completed by April 2020.
He said this while speaking with news men in Abuja after the defence of the ministry’s budget before the Senate Committee on Aviation.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on October 17, approved the release of N10 billion Special Intervention Fund for immediate repairs and upgrade of the airport.
Buhari said that he was aware of the central nature of the airport, which was closed for repairs since August 24, to the socio-economic development of the Southeast.
Sirika, who noted that money had been approved by Buhari said, “we are waiting for the release and I am sure it will be released very soon.
“We are meeting with the contractor. He will give us his programme of work; we will look at that programme of work diligently and ensure it is procured within the time and within the budget.
“And the time for the procurement certainly will be before Easter.”
The minister said that the ministry was doing its best to ensure the reduction in air crashes.
“Some of those ways we do is first and foremost to put all those things in place that will ensure safe operations.
” We also ensure the training and retraining of our personnel, train and retrain those who man the airplanes, to regulate them, to ensure they are doing the right things and at the right time and that they are so proficient enough to be able to handle the operations safely.
“All of those safety and security critical items within the system of aviation is our concern.
“And we have emphasised and reemphasised and improved upon those things that will make and ensure safe flight and operations.
“That is why you see all the might and weight and budget and purse of the civil aviation ministry is geared toward all those critical items that ensure safe operations are been dealt with,” Sirika said.
He also said that the National Carrier would soon be realised.
“Of, course I have been in consistent in this national carrier. It is coming very soon.
“We have finished the outline business case which had been duly considered by Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and passed.
“They are back to us now and we have set up a committee as required by law and by the programme and we will go to the market very soon and once we are in the market, we will procure,” he said.
Earlier, while defending the budget, Sirika said that airports in the country were wearing new look befitting of modem airports.
“In fact, two of the new terminals (Port Harcourt and Abuja) constructed by CCECC, which were commissioned last year are already in full operation while Lagos and Kano would in a short while follow suit.”
He said that for 2020, the sum of N41.8 billion was proposed for Capital Expenditure.
In his remark, acting Chairman of the Committee, Senator Bala Na’Allah said, “I have seen the challenges for the new airport in Abuja and Port Harcourt.
” How did we get involve in this multi billion dollar project without first sitting down to look at all these issues for concession before the construction the projects?
“We must begin to avoid the challenges by putting round pegs in round holes,” Na’Allah said.