The Federal Government yesterday appealed to Nigerians to endure the inconveniences of transiting to Kaduna Airport over the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who made the appeal, also disclosed that the concession of some airports in the country would be presented to the Federal Council Executive, FEC, meeting in Abuja today.
Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of state, Aviation
Fielding questions from journalists at a joint press briefing with the Minster of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during an inspection tour of Kaduna International Airport, Sirika said: “I want to appeal to Nigerians to endure all the inconveniences that the closure of Abuja airport might have caused them. We are trying our best possible to minimize the discomfort and ensure their safety.”
He said government was strongly committed to providing an enabling environment for investors to thrive in the aviation sector with rules and regulations that would make the industry economically attractive.
He confirmed that the procurement process for the concession had reached advanced stages, while government had appointed transaction advisers.
According to him, “ concession is a process and l must say that we have gone a little far on it; we will present it to FEC for approval tomorrow (today).
On the rehabilitation of Abuja airport runway, the minister explained that the whole renovation work would not exceed six weeks, adding that he would mount a clock at point where the contractor, Julius Berger, was working to serve as a constant reminder of the need to finish the job promptly.
On the possibility of a second runway at the airport in the near future, Sirika said it was necessary to construct a second runway after the repairs of the Abuja airport runway which he added will last for an upward of 10 years once completed.
He said the second runway would not take more than 24 months to be completed, if prroved by the Federal Government.
Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on his part, said it would give the federal government a lot of advantage, if it was able to build the second runway before the concession.
He said: “If we are able to build the second runway before concession, it will add value to the government but if the concession process commenced before the second runway, it be at the advantage of the concessionaire.
“We have done all that we have to do on the Abuja- Kaduna transit to minimize discomfort and ensure maximum safety of passengers. I don’t think we can do more than we are doing now.”
A passenger, Mr Aderemi Adegboyega, said of his experience so far: “Ordinarily, I would have taken a taxi to Kaduna but on a second thought, I just felt that it was better I go on the train.’’
Adegboyega who applauded the effort of the government, prayed that the present arrangement would be sustained till the end of the six weeks.
“I dont think there any problem about this arrangement as longer as they are able to sustain it,” he said.
Another passenger, Mr Tunde Fanwo, said he preferred to go to Kaduna by rail for safety and comfort.
He said: “I travel by rail because I live close to the rail station. It is more reliable for me because of its proximity to my house and it is cheaper and safer.’’
Speaking on the train services, the Operations Manager of Idu Train Station, Mr Victor Adamu, said passengers connecting their flights in Kaduna needed to come to train station with their boarding pass