Tuesday, May 17

FG threatens to shut Abuja airport

FG threatens to shut Abuja airport

Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, has lamented the poor state of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, threatening that the federal government might decide to shut it.

Sirika also revealed that the government had plans to concession the Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano international airports.

He said that the current facilities at the airports did not meet international standard and best practices in the aviation industry, adding that private sector involvement was the way forward.

He disclosed this at the 2016 aviation stakeholders forum, which held in Abuja on Monday.

“The state of the Abuja airport runway is a source of concern. The federal government may consider closing down the airport as form of safety precaution,” he said.

On the concession of airports, he said the government was committed to upgrading the existing facilities, as well as developing new strategy to repositioning the sector.

“The thinking is that just like every other place in the world, we will concession our airports and we are beginning with the big four, Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano,” he said.

“It would have been ideal to take them to some level of acceptance for them to attract more.

“But I think we just get those guys who believe that in Nigeria they can create a hub geographically given by God.

“To come and put in their money and create this hub, build these airports, concession them, run them and make money out of them.”

According to him, if the government is able to concession the four airports successfully in the first phase, it will pay attention to providing infrastructure and developing domestic airports for optimal performance.

Sirika also said that the state of the Abuja airport runway was a source of concern.

He said government may consider closing down the airport as form of safety precaution.

He said that government was committed to upgrading the existing facilities at the airports as well as developing new strategy to repositioning the sector.

The minister also said that a comprehensive security check and vulnerability assessment of the airports had been carried out to ensure they were properly secured.

According to him, every huge major disaster in the world such as the Pearl Habour attack, September 11 attack on the US, among others, are aviation related disasters.

“Safety is the main focus in aviation because, the time a passenger arrives airport, when he takes off and land is very important,” he said.

“We are developing a new security strategy in partnership with international security organisations and procurement of modern equipment.”

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