The Federal Government has assured the availability of funds for the second aviation runway, as well as its commitment to the project scheduled to begin within 12 months.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika made this statement during an inspection tour and oversight of the second runway project in Abuja.
Sirika recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the ministry to complete all abandoned projects and the second runway is one of them.
“I am glad that we can see some of the projects. The second runway that is ongoing now, completed cargo facilities here in Abuja and the international terminal and car park [are some achievements by the ministry].
“I want to assure the chairman of the Senate [committee] that, with their support, we are going to tick all the road map items and have a 100 per cent success rate on the road map.”
According to Sirika, the contractor is working so hard to deliver this project. The contractor has been mobilised to the site and work has commenced. We intend to deliver the project as soon as possible.
“Government is committed to this project as well as funding it. With maximum support from the National Assembly in their oversight [functions] and funding we are more than ready at any time,” he said.
Sirika recalled the closure of the Abuja and Maiduguri airports (the latter was attacked by Boko Haram) but pointed out that both have been rebuilt.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Sen. Biodun Olujimi, expressed her satisfaction with the ongoing project. “This is happening in our time. We are improving and getting better and taking aviation as the real growth of transportation and key to whatever, we have to do for the growth [of the sector] in the country.
“We believe [that] at the end of it all funding will be available to those projects that you need to deliver and we expect that you deliver them as well as you can.”
Olujimi recalled that at a particular time the airport has to be shut down because “we have only one runway and it was bad. It was the initiative of the minister to ensure that the [construction of the] second runway began”.
The lawmaker pleaded for support to get the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) back on track.
“We found out that NAMA has been pulled away from the budget. We are struggling [in] both chambers to ensure they are put back in because NAMA is a very important sector in aviation.
“The minister just approved that funding will be constant and it will be delivered as soon as possible, especially before this administration’s time comes to an end. The contract is supposed to be for 12 months and the maintenance will be for another 12 months,” Olujimi added.
The chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Sen. Nnaji Nnolim stressed that the construction has been expected to begin for some years. “We have been funding budgets to accommodate the second runway which is very important to this country. [Also because] Abuja, being the capital of Nigeria, is an aggressive infrastructure, agricultural development and economic base, we feel that it is important to add another runway.
“When completed, this runway will be the longest, maybe in West Africa – being 4.2 kilometres against the existing runway which is about 3.7 kilometres. This runway is coming with control power, a taxiway and other facilities.
“The second phase of this project will have a terminal building. We are glad that this project is happening now that we are on the aviation committee. As we are happy with the minister, we also congratulate ourselves as part of this success story. We are glad that the project will be completed in less than 12 months because with aggressive funding this project will be commissioned before May 29, 2023, being as important as this project in less than 6 months this project will be completed and commissioned.”
Nnolim stated that the second runway project will gulp N72billon.
“We have seen the completion of the cargo building waiting for the commission,” he said.
The chairman, Senate Committee, Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Smart Adeyemi observed that the National Assembly is “Glad that there is a second runway.
“My involvement here is to look at the length of this road and, possibly, have an idea of the compensation that may [have to be paid out to] the indigenous people of this area.
“I have seen the length of this runway and I can tell you that in the 2022 and 2023 budgets that are yet to be passed due to some delays, we see how we can make some funding available so that the indigenous [people] will be happy to support this project and there will be no obstructions from the 3 to 5 communities affected by this project.”