The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen Hadi Sirika, says adequate security will be provided for passengers that will be travelling through Kaduna Airport to Abuja during the closure of Abuja Airport.
Sirika gave the assurance on Thursday in Abuja when briefing stakeholders on the planned total closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for comprehensive repair works on the runway and taxi-ways pavement.
He said that the Federal Government had concluded security arrangement in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and Kaduna State Government to deploy enough personnel on the road during the period.
The minister said that the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing had also assured him to commence immediate rehabilitation of bad spots on the Kaduna- Abuja highway for seamless operation.
Sirika said that the upgrade of Aviation Services in Kaduna Airport had been carried out as well as improvement of navigational aids including extension of operation from 18 hours to 24 hours.
According to him, there will be provision of train services to air passengers from Kaduna to Abuja, helicopter services in Abuja and Kaduna and upgrade of Aviation Services in Kaduna airport.
“There will be an immediate commencement of Abuja- Kaduna Expressway maintenance in line with Federal Executive Council conclusion of Nov. 30, 2016 and improvement of power supply to the airport.
“There is provision for security within the airport, Kaduna metropolitan city, en-route to railway station and along Kaduna- Abuja road.
“To ensure smooth traffic flow, traffic controllers will be deployed to every inter-section along Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway, Kaduna.
“There will be an immediate rehabilitation of a section of Nnamdi Azikiwe Western bypass road, Kaduna.
“There is also the engagement with stakeholders and service providers like hoteliers with a view to improving service delivery and sensitisation of all stakeholders within the state.’’
Sirika, while explaining the reason for the closure of Abuja Airport, said that if nothing was done, the country could be in for a huge disaster considering the level of dilapidation of the runway.
He said the Abuja airport runway had totally failed due to negligence, adding that the life span of the runway was 20 years but had been used for 34 years.
“I was conscious with the sheer size of the dilapidation of critical infrastructure in the aviation industry, especially the most critical one, such as runway of that of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja (NAIA).
“Even before I joined government, I have always been spoken about the need for a second runway in Abuja because of its operational safety and for efficiency of the airport itself.
“The imperative to shutdown NAIA for a period of six weeks was as a result of negligence in terms of maintenance of the runway.
“This administration with safety and security as its priority, has decided to face the problem head-on.
“The cooperation of all stakeholders is therefore required to enable us go through this transition period with minimal discomfort.’’
Sen. Philip Aduda, Senate Minority Whip and the Senator representing the Federal Capital Territory, said the issue of aviation safety and security could not be over-emphasised.
According to him, airport must be safe first and foremost.
Aduda called for synergy among the stakeholders to ensure safety and security of passengers during the Abuja-Kaduna operation.
He expressed confidence in the ability of the minister of state for aviation to deliver a world class aviation sector for the country.
According to Aduda, the Senate will support the ministry in achieving its mandate.
Also, Mrs Nkiru Onyejeocha, Chairperson, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, pleaded with the minister to ensure that the closure of Abuja airport did not exceed the six weeks.
Onyejeocha commended the government for its interest in safety of passengers and the arrangements being put in place to ensure hitch free operation during the period.
She also appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the government on the decision, to enable it carried out thorough repairs on the Abuja runway.