ASABA (Sundiata Post) – The Delta State Government has said it is taking steps to resolve issues that caused the down grading of the Asaba Airport by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
In a statement made available to Sundiata Post, the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chike Ogeah, said: “On April 27, 2015, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) effected a down grade of Asaba Airport following the directive for the rehabilitation of the existing runway, taxiways and the construction of perimeter fence as well as training of technical personnel.
“By the directive, only Dash 8 – Q 400 planes or their equivalent will continue to operate through the airport until the issues raised are resolved while all Boeing 737s and jets of similar category will be barred.
“The issues raised by the NCAA have been known to the Delta State Government which has already set in motion the machinery for effecting the upgrades demanded by the regulatory agency. First, His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, Governor of Delta State, has approved the rehabilitation of the Runway and Taxiways in the airport.
“Similarly, the Governor has approved the engagement of a seasoned consultant to supervise the rehabilitation exercise. However, being a public sector project, extant rules on procurement and due process will be strictly adhered to. This may, at the initial stage, impact on the commencement of the project.
“The Government is vigorously processing the mobilization of the contractor and the consultant for the job to commence in earnest.
“Already, work on the perimeter fencing has commenced. However, there is additional acquisition of over 400 hectares of adjoining land which has increased the scope of work. To boost security within the airport axis, the Government has employed 20 security guards to carry out routine surveillance of the airside.
“On the training of requisite technical personnel, all the staff recently employed by the State Government have undergone the four-week mandatory basic training at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Training School, Lagos in 2013. Arrangement has reached advanced stage for sending them on specialized training relevant to their various departments.
“It should be noted that Airports are permanent construction sites the world over and regulatory agencies which in Nigeria is the NCAA have the mandate to oversight all the airports and may from time to time raise any concerns thereof.
“The down grade in the status of Asaba Airport has not in any way affected the operation of scheduled commercial flights in and out of the airport. Arik Air, Aero Contractors and Overland Air which operate scheduled daily flights has since deployed the right aircraft specification and are providing seamless services to passengers.
“We hereby assure the general public that the Delta State Government is committed to effecting the upgrade of the facilities directed by the NCAA promptly and the status of Asaba Airport will soon be restored to accommodate bigger jets such as the Boeing 737. It should also be noted that government being a continuum, the coming of a new administration on May 29 will in no way affect the schedule and timeliness of the facility upgrade. Wherever the upgrade exercise is by May 29, the coming government of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa will see the project through.
“The airport is critical to consolidating the emerging economic frontier created by the airport which has become one of the few viable ones in the country.”
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