Funding delays rehabilitation of Enugu airport six weeks after closure
Funding hitches may have caused delay in the rehabilitation of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, which was shut down by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on August 24 this year.
Minister for Aviation, Hardi Siriki who was in Enugu in August told reporters after a meeting with governors and stakeholders in the South East zone that the airport would be reopened before Christmas.He had assured that the rehabilitation work would come with installation of lighting devices and other gadgets to enable the airport to operate night flights that could culminate in additional flights.
However, six weeks after closure of the airport, reconstruction work is yet to begin, even as there are no indications that the contractor would mobilise to site soon.
When The Guardian visited the facility yesterday, the contractor that handled the dilapidated runway in 2010 was afraid of mobilising to site as he was not sure of adequate funding, especially since there would not be any break in the work when it commences.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo had earlier raised the alarm over the closure of the airport without funding and award of contract for its rehabilitation, expressing fears that the deadline may be missed.A civil rights activist, George Eze yesterday asked the Federal Government to use the funding model for the renovation of Abuja Airport for the Enugu facility, arguing that it was the only way to save the airport from permanent closure.
Chairman of South East Governors Forum Airport Rehabilitation/Palliative Works Committee, Engr. Chris Okoye urged Presidency and Ministry of Finance to provide funding that would ensure delivery of the project within schedule.
Meanwhile, an Enugu based architect, Jonathan Emejulu yesterday began demolition of no fewer than 13 structures at the Airport Road Layout, Phase IV and V in Enugu, saying he was executing an Enugu State High Court judgment, which awarded him ownership of the Layout.
The demotion was earlier stopped on Wednesday when the Enugu State Commissioner of Police (CP), Ahmad Abdurrahman, invited the contending parties and asked the Officer-in-Charge (OC) Legal to interpret the court order to him.
After studying the court documents, the OC Legal determined that Emujulu possessed a genuine court order, consequent upon which the CP allowed him to commence the demolition with policemen.Emejulu insisted that he bought the layout of over 300 plots of land from the Umuenwene Iji Nike Community in Enugu East Council Area in 2008, and that the state government approved the property before some people started laying claim and trespassing on it.
He alleged that some individuals including Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Edward Ubosi, representative of Enugu East/Isi-Uzo federal constituency, Cornelius Nnaji and Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Vitus Okechi tried to use government connection to dispossess him of the layout, among other claims.
When contacted, Ubosi and Okechi alleged that Emejulu was parading a fake court judgment, saying that he sued the wrong person who had entered consent judgement whereas he (Emejulu) was still in court with the real owner of the land.