The runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja is to be closed to traffic for six weeks in February and March, the first quarter of 2017 for total repairs so says the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.
The Minister in a chat with reporters in Abuja said that the closure became necessary to allow Julius Berger carry out total re-construction on the badly damaged airport runway as President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the reconstruction through the emergency procurement procedure for work to commence.
The minister explained that while the runway would be put to use under the six months of rehabilitation, the six weeks would allow the mid section of the runway to be reconstructed.
Sirika noted that this is because of the importance of Abuja to the general administration of the country as well as the economic implications of allowing the runway remain the way it is.
According to the Minister, government could not afford to close down Abuja airport totally for a long time as repairs had been ongoing at the runway in the last three months.
“From start to finish of the runway, it will take six months. However, we will be using the runway almost throughout the period except for about six weeks when the runway will be closed. That is when we are going to do the mid-section of the runway.”
“The government has accepted the design done by the contractor. The runway will last for than 10 years on completion early next year’’, he said.
Sirika said Abuja bound passengers from any part of the world will use Kaduna airport as alternative during the six weeks closure to passengers.
He said arrangement had been finalized with Kaduna State, adding that while the federal government will provide buses to convey the passengers to Abuja, the state government will provide security.
According to him, the repairs will cost government a substantial amount of money “but we think that palliative approach is wrong because three years down we will come back to do the same repairs.
“Therefore, we decided to go for the bigger option which is to do structural repairs if the runway which will take about six months to complete,” he said.