By Adekunle Williams
Lagos – Rep. Nnolim Nnaji, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, on Tuesday expressed concern over the planned closure of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Nnaji said in Lagos that the closure would have adverse effect on the socioeconomic activities in the South-East region.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had announced that runway at the airport would be closed on Aug. 24 for major repairs and works on the airfield.
FAAN said the move was aimed at resolving the existing safety and security concerns to flight operations, adding that a date to reopen the runway would be communicated in due course.
Nnaji, who represents Nkanu East/ West Federal Constituency, said that the closure was coming at a time travelling by road in South-East zone had become a nightmare due to the prevailing security challenges.
The parliamentarian said that his committee would work assiduously with the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ensure that the repair works were completed within the stipulated time.
Nnaji, in a statement, urged the Federal Government to approve a special grant to Enugu State Government to enable it to cope with the increased demand for security and maintenance of roads that would serve the diverted traffic from the airport.
He also appealed to the Federal Ministry of Works to ensure that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) was adequately mobilised to carry out some urgent repair works on the various access roads between Enugu and the alternate airports.
Nnaji expressed displeasure with the collapse of the said runway barely six years after its construction, saying that the Aviation Committee would look into the issue.
He said: “By my investigation, a standard runway should have a life span of 30 years; so if that runway could collapse under six years, some people have to give us explanations.
“The country is going through some difficult times economically, and there are so many things contesting for the scarce resources; so, we cannot afford to have huge tax payers money go down the drains just like that.
“If in the course of our findings we discover that the contractor did a shoddy job on the collapsed runway, the company will not go scot-free.”
Nnaji added that the House of Representatives was prepared to work closely with the executive arm of government to improve air travel in the country.