By G9ija

The House of Representatives yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate repair of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

Adopting a motion under matters of urgent importance sponsored by Mr. Toby Okechukwu at the plenary presided by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, the house directed its committee on aviation to interface with the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, to ensure immediate commencement of works at the airport.

It also called on the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, at the interim, to expedite repairs of the major roads leading to the alternative routes to the airport, to alleviate the suffering of the public.

Okechukwu, alongside 15 of his colleagues from the South East geopolitical zone, while moving the motion, noted that despite the December 2019 deadline, no contractor had mobilised to site and no fund released for the rehabilitation work.

The house deputy minority leader asserted that the closure of the airport had exposed the travelling public to avoidable inconveniences and frustrated their ease of doing business.He maintained that the adoption of the funding model for the renovation of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, would save the Enugu airport from protracted closure.

Similarly, the Igbo Ekunie Initiative (IEI) has criticised the Federal Government for the closure of the airport since August 24, 2019, for repairs without commencing work.

The group comprising of professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora condemned the delay, having reviewed the abrupt closure of the airport with only a week’s notice, the continuing delay or outright refusal of the aviation ministry and the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) to commence repairs in such critical infrastructure.

President of the group, Tochukwu Ezeoke, and secretary, Lawrence Nwobu, stated that the same runway at the airport had been previously awarded to PW Limited, which, after a prolonged closure of the airport, was only able to render “a lacklustre, dismal and substandard delivery to the effect that the runway was not fit for purpose and posed a danger to airport users.”

The group asserted that while the ministry deemed it necessary to shut down the airport for repairs, though this could have been avoided by constructing a second runway at night, it believed that all necessary arrangements that would facilitate the quick reopening of the airport should have been done in advance of the closure.

They said that such insensitive closure of the airport, other than being an act of grave economic sabotage, also fuels separatist agitations by groups who rightly feel short-changed and marginalised by such reckless and unpatriotic acts of government.“We hereby call on the Minister of Aviation, Alhaji Hadi Sirika, to cease these acts of economic sabotage, and as a matter of utmost urgency mobilise contractors to commence repairs of the Enugu airport to meet the December deadline initially given. This is to assuage the displacement, economic haemorrhage and suffering of those who have been affected by the closure of the airport,” the group charged.

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