The Federal Government has decried a high level of infrastructural damages at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, stating that it’s runway is prone to cause accident and declaring it might be shut down soon.
In a detailed presentation at the industry wide stakeholders’ forum organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Abuja, to unveil the plans of the current government for the aviation sector, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, regretted that the Abuja airport runway had been neglected over time by previous governments, and wondered how pilots were coping with the facility.
To emphasize his points, Sirika showed the audience photographic clips of dangerous potholes on the runway, stating that the pictures were taken on Sunday.
He expressed how tempting it is to shut down the airport when he saw the level of dilapidation of the facility, adding that he would surely close the NAIA in the near future in order to ensure the safety of lives and property, especially as the raining season sets in. He said:
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you see slides on how the Abuja airport runway is at the moment, you won’t fly it. I was tempted this morning to close the airport, and I probably will. I probably will, for sure!”
As the slides showing the potholes on the runway were being displayed, the minister said;
“This is the Abuja airport runway. It is this bad and this was just on Sunday.”
Sirika explained that it was high time the nation’s capital got another runway, stressing that the sorry state of the present runway was impacting businesses negatively.
On the bloated workforce in some of the agencies under the Ministry, the Minister stated that there was no way he could work with the about 40 general managers in FAAN. This implied how determined the FG is to trim the workforce – managers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. The Minister stated:
“Even if I want, I don’t think I should indulge 40 general managers in FAAN; in fact, level 17. It is not the way to go, no! The structure must be slim, focused, clever, result-oriented, patriotic and be able to deliver the required services.”
Sirika further informed that the government was working on plans to provide six cargo terminals for the transportation of perishable goods at affordable rates. He noted that his team had informed President Muhammadu Buhari of the need to establish an aviation development bank in order to provide funding for genuine businesses in the sector.
In his view, the government would stop funding the country’s aviation college in Zaria, Kaduna State, stressing that the institution must work out ways to generate revenue to ensure its continued survival.
On plans for a national carrier, he said the government would soon appoint a transaction adviser who would drive the emergence of the airline.