The Senate, yesterday objected to the move by former Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The Senate also urged the Federal Government to rehabilitate the airport’s runway for the safety of passengers and aircraft.
The resolution followed a motion by Sen. Victor Umeh (APGA-Anambra) which was co-sponsored by 16 other lawmakers at a plenary president over by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu in Abuja.
Moving the motion, Umeh said that the importance and economic value of the airport cannot be over-emphasised.
“The Senate is aware of the threat by former Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport would be downgraded.
“This is because of what he considered as imminent dangers posed to air travelers by the presence of a nearby market, a state radio mast on the flight path of airlines that threaten safety of incoming aircraft.
“He also alluded his reason to an abattoir, which attracts large birds and expose airplanes to birds strikes, the location of a free trade zone and the decrepit state of the runway,” he said.
The lawmaker appreciated the concern of Sirika “over the safety of passengers and airplanes that use the airport, which currently serves travelers from Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Kogi, Benue, and Cross River.”
“The Senate further appreciates the assertion of the former Minister that Enugu is to the East what Kaduna is to the North being the major connecting link to South East states.
“The Senate is aware that the upgrade of Akanu Ibiam International Airport was not only historic but made South Easterners heave sigh of relief and gave them a sense of belonging,” he said.
According to Umeh, Akanu Ibiam International Airport is the only international airport in the entire South East of Nigeria.
He said it was disheartening that since the launch of the airport as an international facility in 2013, it is yet to be given a face lift that befits an international airport.
“The Senate is worried that currently, the airport has only one runway which is in bad shape having been patched and lacks the second runway that should serve as an alternative in keeping with international standard.
“The Senate is further worried that the runway of the airport awarded to PW PLC was carried out without internal drains which is affecting the stability of the runway, making it to crack and develop portholes,” he said.
He said the Senate is alarmed that the only source of water supply to the airport is through supply from tankers, Fire Service van and the reservoir which cannot stand the test in times of emergency unlike other airports that have constant water supplies.
Nigeria Saves $500,000 From Calibration Aircraft – Minister
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said that Nigeria will be saving a lot of money from the acquisition of a custom made calibration aircraft recently acquired by the Federal Government.
Sirika who disclosed this while speaking to aviation correspondents in Abuja, Tuesday, said the purpose of the aircraft was to calibrate navigational equipment and aid the country for the purpose of flight operations.
The aircraft which is worth about $8.5 million, according to the minister, will be commercialised to generate revenue, and keep the industry safe.
“We used to have one in Nigeria, but for the last two decades, we never had any. What propelled us to procure this aircraft was that while we were reconstructing the Abuja runway, we needed to recalibrate all those landing aids. That is the standard requirement and this is to ensure they are working in perfect order.
“The last time Nigeria had such aircraft was 20 years ago under cover aviation flying unit. We did not have the capacity as a country, the only people close to us that had is ASECNA which is owned by French speaking countries, but the aircraft is domiciled in Niger.
“We approached them but they did not have a slot for us. If I hadn’t got the support of far away South Africa, we would not beat the six weeks deadline.
“Nigeria will be saving a lot of money by procuring this aircraft. I know I paid about $500,000 when our equipment was due to South African contractor to carry out the task.
“ If you say every six months, we will do this, and that would be half a million dollars every six months. So when we do it sixteen times, the value of the aircraft would have been paid. Not only that, we will commercialise it to generate revenue and keep our industry safe “, Sirika said.
The minister, however, explained that it took about nine months from when the request was made to the completion and installation of the equipment.
The Tide reports that the aircraft was built in Textron Aviation Services, Kansas in the United States, and it is expected to improve safety in the aviation industry.
PH Airport Manager Seeks Safety Awareness, Education At Airports
The Safety Manager, Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Mr Oguche Samuel, has harped on the need for continuous awareness and education on safety at the nation’s airports.
He said the continuous safety education would create awareness to staff and stakeholders at the airports on their safety responsibilities.
Samuel disclosed this while addressing participants at the safety promotion day at the airport which focused on Foreign Object Deris (FOD),
He urged participants and staff to be good safety ambassadors in their day to day activities, stressing that safety is one of the core values of FAAN.
Meanwhile, the management of the Port Harcourt International Airport has keyed into the Airport Emergency Plan programme as plans are in full gear towards the certification of the airport.
The Tide reliably learnt that the management of the airport recently took steps in training staff in relevant departments on emergency plan.
Instructors from Accra in Ghana, it was gathered, were invited to train some of the staff of the airport in the later part of last year.
The training was aimed at developing staff capacity to effectively and efficiently handle emergency response with the certification of the airport.
FAAN Moves To Check Security Threats At Airside
Following reported cases of intrusion into airside at the nation’s airports, particularly at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at nights, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu has taken steps to install thermal and infrared cameras for airside monitoring and patrol.
The introduction of thermal and infrared cameras is meant to monitor and expose happenings or any intruder who manages to gain access to airports, especially at nights.
FAAN, in a press statement on Tuesday, said it took the steps because anything that happens at the airside, has a ripple effect on the aviation industry.
“We are mostly particular about the airside because at the end of the day, security and safety are paramount and anything that happens at the airside has a ripple effect and we are here to ensure that our airports are safe.
FAAN posited that it is a dangerous practice to go and open aircraft cargo door because of the engine blast which might occur on the process.
“The proximity switch and the plunder could vibrate when the engine level is moved above idle running; for some seconds, the light may flash and warning light will remain off. It is even an easy thing to open the cargo door while the engine is running.
“Rotation of the handle activates a torque tube to withdraw the latch rollers from the latch fitting and as the door swings on board under tension of the door balance mechanism, the door warning proximity switch is activated to energize the appropriate door warning in the control cabin to alert the Crewe”, FAAN stated.
Enumerating other efforts being made to tackle the problem, FAAN explained that the Authority has put patrol vans fitted with cameras on the dashboard to capture the environment during patrol, saying although this might be a temporary measure.
Our correspondent reports that there were reports of incidents of intruders allegedly opening the cargo compartment of aircraft either taxing or holding on the runway, particularly at the Lagos airport, which had become a cause of concern to FAAN management.
News3 days ago
Rise Up Against Herdsmen, Danjuma Tells Nigerians …Says Meyitti Allah Determines What Happens In Presidency …Army Working With Buhari To Grab Lands, Give Same To Fulanis
News3 days ago
Buhari Recognises Kyari As ‘Deputy President’ -Ex-Emir
Niger Delta4 days ago
Group Trains 300 Hunters To Save Gorillas In C’River
Niger Delta3 days ago
Wike, Julius Berger MD Inspect Progress Of Work On Three Flyover In PH
Featured4 days ago
S’Court Judgement On Bayelsa: RSG Condemns Attacks On Peter Odili, Family …Bemoans FG’s Silence On Threat To Ex-Gov’s Life
Editorial4 days ago
New Visa Policy, Good But…
News3 days ago
Late Mechanic: Police Shield Autopsy Report
Business4 days ago
Phone Dealers Lament Low Patronage, Laud Garrison Flyover Project