The Senate yesterday resolved to invite the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of State (Aviation), Hadi Sirika; Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Saddique Abubakar; and the Managing Directors, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to provide details on the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja as well as to explore other options that can avoid a total closure of the airport.
The resolution followed the unanimous adoption of a motion tagged “The Planned Closure of the Abuja Airport” sponsored by Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, lmo) and five others at plenary.
The Senate noted with concern the decision of the FAAN to close the airport for six weeks, beginning from March 6, 2017 in order to carry out repairs on the only runway at the airport, which is reported to be in a deplorable state.
The Red Chamber expressed worry that a six-week outright closure of a major and the only airport in the nation’s capital can trigger untold hardships on international and local air travelers and consequently dent the nation’s image.
Senators also expressed concern that a complete shut-down of the airport will impact negatively on international trade and related activities, with a multiplier effect that can exact further pressure on an already recessed national economy.
The Senate further said that it was aware of the logistics and security challenges the diversion of Abuja-bound flights to Kaduna will throw up, including endangering the lives and properties of international and local air travelers who will be forced to travel by land from Kaduna to Abuja.
It therefore added that it was satisfied that all the options have not been exhausted to avoid the shutdown of the only airport in the nation’s capital for six weeks, including the option of a technical package to allow skeletal air operations at the airport while most repair work on the runway is executed at night.
The Senate said it was “determined to explore all other possible options that can avert the planned total closure of a strategic national port as Nnamdi Azikwe Airport for six weeks with all its attendant consequences, including breach of international conventions and treaties.”