President Muhammadu Buhari has given an order for the immediate repair of the failed portions of the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said.
This is coming as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, declared that despite the scarcity of aviation fuel, known as Jet-A1, Nigerians should know that the commodity had been liberalised by the Federal Government.
Both ministers spoke at the VIP lounge of the NAIA on Wednesday before an inspection tour by Sirika.
The Aviation minister told journalists that the Abuja airport runway was actually due for reconstruction 14 years ago, but nothing tangible was done on the facility, which led to the breakdown of some portions.
He stated that he had to shut down the affected portions of the runway in order to avert disaster, a development that made it impossible for some aircraft to land at the airport during the period.
Sirika, however, stated that the portions that were shut had been reopened as maintenance and repairs had been effected, adding that the President had approved the interim repair of the runway as well a major reconstruction of it in the near future.
“Mr. President has directed that there should be an immediate repair on the runway in the short term,” he said.
Sirika said there had not been any major repair of the Abuja airport runway since it was constructed in 1982.
“Ordinarily, the runway is to last for only 20 years, but since the 20 years elapsed in 2002, no serious repairs had been carried out on it,” he said.
The minister further stated that the Federal Government could not continue to fund the nation’s airports, adding that it had resolved to adopt the Public-Private Partnership model for the development of the facilities.
He maintained that despite arguments against the government’s plans for the concession of the airports across the country, there was no going back on the idea.
On the scarcity of aviation fuel, Sirika described it as a challenge that needed the support of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to surmount.
The minister stated, “The aviation fuel issue is one of the recent challenges in the aviation sector and the Minister of Petroleum Resources is here with me and he is making every effort to ensure that the product is very much available for our country and for our use.