By EricJames Ochigbo
Sirika made this known while addressing the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation in Abuja.
“Given the money, we have a time frame of delivering the airport before Christmas; the choice is because we understand that people travel back home during the period and we want them to find a new airport on arrival.
“We have put before government a request of N10 billion and we believe government is doing everything possible to provide the funds,” he said.
The minister said that airport was closed down because of the state of the runway and other safety concerns.
He said that there are some limitations in the Enugu airport which had been brought to the attention of the Governor of the state.
Sirika said that efforts were made to address the issues and inadequacies which includes the presence of a market close to the runway.
He said that because grains were being sold in the market, it attracts birds which could be ingested into the engine of the plane and cause safety concerns.
The minister said that the market had to be removed and a radio mast in the airport had been removed after along battle.
He said that another issue was the encroachment of the airport by indigenes, converting part of the airport residential area.
He said that those were the major reasons for the closure of the airport to avert air accidents in the airport.
The minister, however said that the design for a new runway had been done and that procurement plan was ongoing awaiting approval.
According to him, Enugu International Airport is extremely important for us at the ministry as it is International and it is considered when Nigeria is being scored for security and safety.
He said that Enugu being the headquarters of the former Eastern region, it is what Kaduna is to the Northern region and it the only one of the five airport being funded by the Federal Government.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Commitee, Rep. Nnoli Nnaji, asked the minister what was delaying the completion of the airport.
He said that the airport was important to the people of the South East, South South and part of the North Central.
Nnaji said that the same attention which the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport Abuja revived during its respires should be given to the Enugu airport.
The lawmaker said that the Abuja international airport requires a second runways given its importance to economic activities in the country.
The chairman recommended that the 25 per cent of generated revenue being remitted to the federal account by Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) should be used to develop infrastructure at the airport by the agency.
According to him, the airport being the first point of call should have hotels and other basic infrastructure to aid business transactions.