Abuja airport: April 19 reopening still stands

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The Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Muhtar Usman, on Sunday said the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja runway project was 99 per cent completed, adding that the items  found during the audit were not critical to safety and would not stop the reopening of the airport scheduled for April 19.

Usman made this known in a statement signed by the media consultant to the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Ariyo Akinfenwa, after carrying out an audit on the runway.

He said, “Today, NCAA along with the airport owner, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), conducted an inspection.

“We were able to see that the job has been done well up to at least 99 per cent completion. We believe that the remaining work will be completed on or before the official opening date.”

”The findings have been communicated to the owner of the airport, FAAN. We are expecting a corrective action plan that will come with timelines that will address those issues.

”But as I mentioned earlier, those items that we found are not safety critical and then cannot affect the opening.

“The job has been well-done. The technology employed is the latest and we believe Nigerians will be happy,” he said.

Responding, the Managing Director of FAAN, Mr Saleh Dunoma, said the items identified by NCAA would be corrected in accordance with the agreed action plan and timeline, adding that the authority has been working in collaboration with the NCAA, and they have to adhere to procedures.

“The procedure is that after the completion or near completion of the project, an inspection will be conducted,” he said.

“The inspection will have to be conducted by both our engineers from NCAA, FAAN, the consultant and the contractors. They have made some findings just like the DG has said, they are not safety critical.

“It is normal after huge project like this, such findings will be there. All we need to do is to adhere to the procedure, which means we have to respond to those findings by writing to the NCAA our action plan and timeline.

“This will be submitted immediately. We will work together with contractor to make sure that all these findings are corrected within the timelines that we are going to agree with NCAA.

“And of course, after the final inspection will be conducted then, we believe we will be given a clean bill of health by the NCAA,” he said.

An official of Julius Berger who was part of the inspection, Dr Lars Richter, expressed satisfaction with the level of completion of the project, stating that “It was quite a bit challenging to finish the project within six weeks.”

“At the beginning, everybody in Nigeria was concerned. Not everybody was happy that the airport was closed for six weeks.

“But we, together with FAAN, the contractors have delivered the runway within six weeks and it was a good cooperation because the task was really tight.

“At the end of this inspection, everybody could see the proof that the runway is finished. The runway is delivered on the highest quality. We can say for the next ten years, it will remain there of course with good maintenance,” he said.

It should be recalled that the Abuja airport was shut on March 8 for six weeks to enable Julius Berger carry put complete rehabilitation of the 3.6 kilometres runway.

The runway, which was constructed in 1982, was meant to last for 20 years, but had been in use for 35 years without major repair and proper maintenance.


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