The Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika and the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi have appeared before the Senate to explain the reason for the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja.
The Senate invited both ministers on Tuesday to explain the reason for the closure and rather explore other options besides closing the airport.
Lawmakers are opposing the closure of the airport which they say would bring hardship on local and international travellers.
The Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika, explained that to continue to operate, the Abuja airport will be unsafe and unreasonable as there are daily incidents on the runway.
Captain Sirika said that every flight plan always have alternate landing routes and Kaduna has always been the alternate for Abuja airport.
He also pointed out that most of the sections of the runway have collapsed and if multiple sections have collapsed, it means the entire runway has collapsed.
The runway in the Abuja airport was constructed in 1982 with a lifespan of 14 years which had been exceeded.
The Nigerian Government has restated its resolve to shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja from March 8.
The government also reassured international and local airline operators, as well as air travellers of adequate security at the Kaduna airport.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the assertion on Thursday at a special stakeholders’ meeting on the temporary closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
He emphasised the importance of the closure, pointing out the security and safety measures put in place to ease air transportation to and from Kaduna airport.
The Minister, who addressed all the concerns raised by the stakeholders, said that the closing of the airport was a painful decision taken in the interest of all stakeholders.
He said that the Federal Government remained committed to the safety of air travellers, stressing that the airport runway would be rehabilitated within six weeks.
In their separate remarks, the chairmen of Airline Operators of Nigeria and international airline operators, Mr Noggie Maggison and Mr Osho Joseph, expressed objections over the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
The British Deputy High Commissioner, Harriet Thompson, also raised concerns about the movement of passengers from Abuja to Kaduna.
The runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was built in 1982 with a life span of 20 years.
Fourteen years after its lifespan expired, the airstrip has been adjudged unsafe for air travellers.
The British government has said that it is confident that the anti-corruption war being driven by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration will reignite investment confidence and allow investors to venture in other sectors outside oil and gas.
The British Deputy High Commissioner, Mr Ray Kyles told Channels Television at an event in Lagos, South-West Nigeria, that a level-playing field is needed to actualise the gains of economic diversification.
The British envoy also said that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is ready to engage in policy dialogue that will strengthen trade relations of both countries through the opportunities that abound in other sectors of the nation’s economy.
While the search continues for the missing girls, international experts are yet to come forth with any findings on their efforts at helping the Nigerian military.
The U.S and U.K Government representatives in the country insist they are very much in the mix of efforts at finding the girls but explain that they are not at the forefront of the campaign.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, said “our troop is here to support the Nigerian Government in the Nigerian Government’s efforts to get these girls back.
“We are supporting your Government; we are not here to do this for you; that’s the definition of partnership. We’re here to help you do something that’s difficult and help you as best we can but we are not in the lead on this.
British Deputy High Commissioner, Peter Carter, said, “Clearly it’s a matter of great concern that none of the girls have been found but we are working very closely with the Nigerian authorities and with our American partners to provide assistance and support to the Nigerian authorities in their efforts to bring the girls home as quickly as possible.
“We fully support all the efforts that the Nigerian authorities are making, we want to see those efforts redoubled, we need to see them reinforced and we are here to help and provide support.”