Enugu Airport: Repair and Renovate, Do Not Degrade – By ThankGod Ukachukwu
When Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu State was upgraded to international category, it was a pleasant news for the South East region, a part of Nigeria whose cosmopolitan people, renowned entrepreneurs and international business people travel far and wide, found close to home an international airport to enhance business and travel. However, the recent proclamation by the Minister of State for Aviation Sen. Hadi Sirika that the airport risk degrade has brought gloom. The minister cited security reasons for a proposed closure of the airport and a possible degrade. Noting that encroaching into the airport were a radio mast, a market and an abattoir from where vultures become impediments to approaching aircrafts. More importantly, the airport runway is said to be in a state of disrepair. The airport was upgraded to an International airport by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration. As at present, it is an international cargo airport and there is construction of a new terminal to bring the airport up to a global standard.
Investigations show that the issues raised by the minister has been highlighted as far back as 2018. However, Enugu State government (ENSG) in response to the minister’s statement outlined bottlenecks in its effort to resolve the issues that the minister raised. The statement read that the government was not able to placate youths to enable removal of the mast but it noted that the market and abattoir have been closed and actions are accelerated towards ensuring all issues that constitute security risks for the airport are being resolved.
However, one can easily see that the government at the state and federal level have been lethargic in dealing with the various issues bedevilling the airport. The federal government which Sadi Harika represents as the minister of state for aviation is responsible through FAAN for repairs and maintenance of federal airports and the issue of dilapidated runway is their responsibility. The ENSG must show that it knows the importance of Enugu airport as the hub for international freight for the South East region and must approach the situation with the urgency it deserves. The governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi should as a matter of urgency constitute or re-constitute a committee chaired by him to tackle the problems. Such a committee should have high priority and progress reviewed at least twice a week to ensure he is on top of the situation.
Again, given that this airport serves the entire South East, governors of other states in the region especially Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, whom the airport is of primary importance should join hands together to resolve the issues. It is not only when it is the issue of IPOB that they will gather in Enugu.
Finally, the Enugu airport can be closed for repairs of runway and renovation but repairs of runway and the other issues cannot be a reason for degrading it. The issues are too insignificant for degrade or downgrade of the airport. These are problems that can be fixed. Meanwhile, the federal government has a running annual contract to further develop the airport. From what can be found in the media, there’s budget for the airport in the 2019 national budget. The minister Sen. Hadi Sirika should not degrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport except there are other reasons not known to the general public for such proposed decisions.
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