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[Abuja]–In order to prevent a future closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Federal Government on Tuesday stated that it would construct a second runway at the airport in the next 24 months.

It also announced that plans were on the way to use Nigerian airlines and some foreign carriers to operate from the Kaduna International Airport to London, following the refusal of international airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa to fly into Kaduna.

The Minister of State of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who was accompanied by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, for the inspection,  said these while responding to questions from journalists after inspecting activities at the Kaduna airport.

Speaking on plans for a second runway at the NAIA, Sirika stated that the move was to prevent closure of the airport in the future, in case there is a need for repairs on its runway, adding that the proposed runway should be ready in 24 months and expressed hope that it would get the required approval from the Federal Executive Council.

The minister said, “There is a plan by government to squeeze in within the 2017 budget to have a second runway in Abuja. However, we need to learn from previous mistakes. Since 1995, I, as a person, has been campaigning for a second runway in Abuja because of safety and to make the airport more efficient. But it fell on deaf ears.

“We were lucky during the time of (the late) President UmaruYar’Adua that the government saw reason as to why there should be a second runway. But this idea was condemned, with people saying that the money was too much. Alternatively, you would have campaigned against the cost, but support the project. So kill the cost, don’t kill the project.”

He added, “So, yes there will be a second runway in Abuja. Hopefully, within the next 24 months we will have a new runway. There is a second runway in Kano, a military runway; a second runway in Lagos and a second runway in Port Harcourt. So, they have second runways and I think the focus of government now within the limited resources is to do a second runway in Abuja.

“The remaining work, during the concession process, if we need additional runway, the man who wins the concession should be able to give us the additional runway.”

The minister, however, noted that any delay in the budget might shift the completion date of the second runway as the ministry was working hard to ensure that the project was completed fast in order to forestall any future closure of the Abuja airport as a result of runway issues.

Copyright 2017 The Page. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.thepageng.com as the source.



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