By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa adamu
A glimmer of hope was raised Thursday by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika on establishment of National Carrier for the Country, a year after evaporation of similar hope made to that effect.
This is as the Minister also promised that the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu , will be completed within the next six months.
Sirika who made the promises during media chat with journalists after his Ministry’s budget defence session with the Senate Committee on Aviation ,said :” I have been consistent on this national carrier. It is coming very soon because this government is more than serious in achieving that for this country .
“The plan is very much on course despite the temporary suspension we had on it last year , serious collaborative efforts are being made by government and required strategic partners in making it a reality”.
As for the Akanu Ibiam Airport , the Minister said rehabilitation work going on, will be completed within the next six months based on expected releases from government .
“We are waiting for the release and I am sure it will be released very soon. We are meeting with the contractor. He will give us his programme of work; we will look at that programme of work diligently and ensure it is procured within the time and within the budget. And the time for the procurement certainly will be before Easter.”
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had last week, October 17, approved the sum of sum N10 billion Special Intervention Fund for immediate repairs and upgrade of the airport.
Asked how the Ministry has been able to curtail the issue of Air crashes, the Minister said, “some of those ways we do is first and foremost to put all those things in place that will ensure safe operations.
“We also ensure the training and retraining of our personnel, train and retrain those who man the airplanes, to regulate them, to ensure they are doing the right things and at the right time and that they are so proficient enough to be able to handle the operations safely.
“All of those safety and security critical items within the system of aviation is our concern. And we have emphasised and reemphasised and improved upon those things that will make and ensure safe flight and operations.
“That is why you see all the might and weight and budget and purse of the civil aviation ministry is geared toward all those critical items that ensure safe operations are been dealt with.”
He said that President Buhari’s government has been able to correct the distortion of Abuja and Lagos airports master plans.
He disclosed that federal government has been able to deliver Port Harcourt and Abuja airports, adding that Kano airport will be delivered in December and hopefully, Lagos by March.
He said: “Infact, two of the new terminals (Port Harcourt and Abuja) constructed by CCECC which were commissioned last year are already in full operation while Lagos and Kano would in a short while follow suit.”
Earlier, in his budget defence, Sirika explained that for 2020, the sum of N41.8 billion was proposed for capital expenditure.
In his remark, acting Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Bala Na’Allah said that “I have seen the challenges for the new airport in Abuja and Port Harcourt.
“How did we get involved in this multi billion dollar project without first sitting down to look at all these issues for concession before the construction the projects. We must begin to avoid the challenges by putting round pegs in round holes,” Na’Allah said.