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Three years after the Federal Government approved an initial sum of N18billion for the construction of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja second runway, work is yet to commence on the site.
Though the Federal Government has set aside another N12 billion in the 2019 Appropriation Act for the project, the start period of the project remains uncertain.
When completed, the second runway is expected to complement the first one repaired in 2017.
Then, the former Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika said repair of the second runway would be completed before the end of the first administration of President Muhammadu Buhari but the project is far from completion.
According to sources at the Abuja airport, actual construction is yet to commence. “They have not started work on the second runway. What they have is just the sketch, and drawings but the actual construction is yet to start.”
Another source at the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) told The ICIR that though the federal government appeared serious about the project it has not commenced.
“I saw some paper works, so I think they are serious about it but they have not started.”
While addressing the House of Representative Joint Committee on Land, Transport, Maritime Safety and Administration, Aviation, Port Harbours and Waterways, in 2017, the Minister told the lawmakers that N63 billion would be required for the project contrary to the approved N18billion.
In the same year, N10 billion was approved in the ministry’s budget for the project. In 2018 and 2019 N8.32 billion and N12 were approved respectively.
Though the actual release for the project in 2018 is unknown, N5 billion was reportedly released.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Transport got N82.4 billion as its total releases for the year out of the N194 billion approved as capital budget. The ministry utilised N81, 9 billion.
Stakeholders in the aviation industry had earlier called on the federal government to ensure repair of the second runway. They noted that temporary shutdown of the first runway cost the federal government about N20 billion losses.
The minister further justified the need to fix the second runway due to the air traffic, stressing that some air operators are mostly on the ground for about 30 minutes waiting for take-off or to land.
“I saw the need and called for it but it fell on deaf ears. At the time of Yar’Adua, the government saw the need but the project was condemned on the excuse that the money was too much.”
“There is a second runway in Kano, Lagos, and Port Harcourt. I think the focus of the government within the limited resources is to do a second runway in Abuja and if we need an additional runway, during the concessioning, the man, who would win it will do it,” he stated.
FAAN General Manager in charge of Corporate Affairs, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu confirmed the project is yet to commence when contacted.
“No. it has not. I think they are still at the level of getting consultants…but work has not commenced,” Yakubu said.