Engineers oppose proposed closure of Abuja airport    

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

Flay exclusion from consultation
Total closure of Abuja International Airport for repairs would lead to huge economic loss, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has said.

The President of the Society, Otis Anyaeji, who stated this in Abuja while responding to the proposed closure, explained that the Nigerian Engineers were sidelined in the consultation process by the Ministry of Aviation.

“Considering the importance of the Aviation to Nigerian economy and the potential negative of the proposed six-week airport closure, NSE responded to the Federal Ministry of Transport (Aviation) stakeholders forum Newspaper advert by sending a robust representation to the stakeholders forum led by the NSE Deputy President. Unfortunately, the decision of the Minister of State (Aviation) to limit contributions to only three stakeholders precluded the views of NSE from being heard,” he said.

Anyaeji stressed that the NSE has carried out an extensive and robust review of the phenomenal and devastating impact, which the proposed closure of Abuja airport would impose on the competitiveness of the economy.

Mindful of the security implications that might be associated with the closure would likely pose, NSE urged government to adopt the operational models at Uli and Frankfurt airports that kept the airports functioning while working in sections.

Anyaeji added: “Construction of the second runway at the Abuja airport must commence immediately. The present non-integrated management of transport sectors has not worked. There is urgent need to adopt a holistic and inter-modal approach. NSE wishes to re-emphasize the need to collapse all transport modes (railway, road, marine, aviation) into Federal Ministry of Transport for greater efficiency and improved management.”

NSE lauded the National Assembly leadership for driving the transport sector reforms and would also encouraged the Executive arm of government to key into the effort.

The national engineering body also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint competent and professionally exposed Nigerian engineers to head engineering and infrastructure ministries as a way to strengthen the change agenda of the present administration.

In his intervention, Dr Isa Emoabino of the Nigerian Institute of Highway and Transportation Engineers, said the Kaduna airport is not ready to assume the regional hub of the Abuja airport.

He suggested that smaller planes and helicopters should be deployed to Lagos and Kano airports for the lifting of very important personalities and other international passengers to the Abuja airport and that rehabilitation of the airport should be done in phases and sections.

He added: “Moving the all the planes coming to Abuja to Kaduna is ill-advised. The movement will have enormous effects on the only the economy of Nigeria, but that of the entire West Africa sub-region. Abuja is a major aviation hub and Kaduna airport is simply not ready to take over that huge responsibilities. Let the Abuja airport be done in sections that will allow smaller planes to evacuate Abuja-bound passengers from either Kano or Lagos airports. By that, minimal damage would be done to the nation’s economy.”

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