Raphael Ede, Enugu
Property owners around the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, would soon lose them as the Federal Government, on Monday, declared the buildings as threat to the airport security and a hindrance to the realization of “international status’ of the airport.
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who stated this after an inspection tour of facilities at the airport, told Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi that the Federal Government has released N1.7 billion for construction work to continue at the international wing of the airport, stressing that more money would be made available when the 2018 was released for completion work.
Hadi disclosed that the Federal Government was determined to complete the airport in record time, noting that full international flight would only commence with the removal and relocation of several property obstructing the runway, security and flight operations.
Some of the properties he listed as offending included, the multi- million naira Enugu Empower free trade zone, whose foundation-laying was performed in 2016 by the state government, the Orie Emene market, Masts belonging to a television and radio stations, residential buildings as well as fencing of the airport.
While the minister lamented the level of encroachment at the Enugu airport, explained that the runway expansion which the incumbent administration embarked upon had been hampered by encroachment, stressing that “people willingly set up structures along the runways”.
“Government decided to expand the runway from 2.5 kilometer to 3 kilometers to accommodate more international flights and cargoes, but stopped midway because people built within 100 meters on the runway. We need to dam the river to enable us use the water to service the airport. The Orie emene market is a security threat. There is an abattoir in the market that attracts vultures which portends danger to flights.
“There is a road leading the Very High Frequency Omni -Directional Radio Range (VOR) which is in terrible state. It functions 24 hours because it guides pilots in their flights. Without this, this airport cannot be operated. The road is 1.5 kilometers and we need to build it because it is impassible during the rainy season”, he said.
He explained that unless the security concerns at the airport were addressed, the certification of the airport to an international status will not be possible and called on the state government to do the needful as he would do all in his abilities to ensure that Enugu was given its rightful statues
Responding, Governor Ugwuanyi told the minister, who he described his appointment as deserving and appropriate, said he would do all in his ability to ensure that the airport gets an international status to enhance Enugu’s economic and social status.
He pleaded with the minister to put the request in writing as quickly as possible in order to fasten the issues raised.
The governor also directed the Airport managers to liaise with the Commissioner for Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), to demolish offending properties that are under-construction along the runway.