Senate Urges FG To Reconstruct Enugu Airport’s Runway


The Senate yesterday urged the Federal Ministry of Transportation to resurface and reconstruct the runway of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The Upper Chamber also mandated its Committee on Aviation to carry out an investigation into the design and construction of the runway.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion on ‘Need for Emergency Reconstruction of the Runway of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu’ sponsored by Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu) during plenary.
Utazi noted that the airport was the first airport east of the Niger that was built even before Nigeria’s independence and was only upgraded to the status of International Airport on August 24, 2013.
“The runway before it was upgraded was 2,400 metres length and 45 metres width but after the upgrade, it was extended to 3,000 metres length which can now take medium to large size aircraft.
“A result of a technical appraisal shows that due to high water table of the airport, water percolates and gets trapped between upper asphalt and bottom concrete.
“This persistent retention of water weakens asphalt and creates potholes and cracks as a result of the weight of landing aircraft which are now heavier that the aircraft of the 605 and 705,” he said.
The senator explained that the airport also lacked approach lights at two ends of the runway which had necessitated that it operated between 7am and 7pm.
Contributing, Deputy Majority Leader, Sen. Bala Na’Allah described the airport as ‘technically unsafe’ for use and also charged the government to quickly bring it back to life to further boost the nation’s economy.
He said that there was usually an update and runway inspection carried out daily in airports across the country.
“Every day before an airport is opened, there is what is referred to as runway inspection from the threshold of one end to the other end and a report is made.
“So there is no hard and fast rule about whether an aircraft is safe or not,” Utazi said.
Similarly, Sen. Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi) stressed the need for the Federal Government to pay urgent attention to the airport in view of its importance not only to the South-East, but the entire country.
On his part, Sen.Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP- Abia) wondered why the airport was always not being considered among others for rehabilitation or upgrade.
He noted that it was shut for a long period about three years ago for possible upgrade and that was never done.