Reopening of Enugu airport uncertain 11 months after closure
Uncertain has continued to trail reopening of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, 11 months after its closure for the repair of its runway and upgrade of facilities to meet international standards.
As at the time of filing this report, no feasible timeline had been fixed for its reopening, having been shut on August 24 last year.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who announced the closure last year, had said it would be reopened for local and international flights before Christmas of 2019, but since then, there have been discrepancies in the reopening date.
Before Christmas of 2019, he apologised that reconstruction work was affected by the release of funds, reassuring that nothing would hinder the conclusion of work and reopening of the airport before Easter 2020.
However, in March 2020, Sirika again told Nigerians that the Easter date for the completion of the renovation was unrealistic because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He had stated that 90 per cent completion of work had been achieved, stressing that six or seven days of work was needed for the runway to be completed.
He told reporters that the construction company handling the repair work abandoned work due to the virus after materials and funding had been provided, thus forcing the Federal Government to suspend its reopening.
Work, however, resumed on May 21 at the airport, as workers of the PW Construction Company were sighted laying the Fiberglass and Binder Course on the regulated asphalt runway.
Chairman, South-East Governors Airport Refurbishment and Palliative Works Committee, Engr. Chris Okoye, in his report earlier in the month, confirmed that the runway would be completed by the end of June.
He stated that two concrete turning pads at runway 08 and 26 and the asphaltic regulatory treatment between the two runways had reached 100 per cent completion.
Okoye added that the placement of fiberglass over the asphaltic regulatory areas had commenced from runway 08, while the laying of 60mm of asphaltic binder course was simultaneously being applied on the fiberglass.
The report also indicated that the erection of the final asphaltic wearing course would follow thereafter, while the airfield light contractor was expected to “resume work about mid-June, 2020 and should complete its works between three and four weeks after completion of the runway.”
House Committee Chairman on Aviation, Nnoli Nnaji, said the project could be completed next month based on what was on the ground, adding, “Everybody is hoping for a reopening date of the airport. However, with available funds, we will have a laugh last because the airport will come out stronger.”
Project Manager, Mahbub Khan also gave between four and eight weeks for completion of work at the airport, saying, “We are close to 70 per cent completion, but the rains and COVID-19 pandemic have affected our speed.”