The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja will be closed between February and March next year, Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika said yesterday.
The closure, according to the minister, will enable a construction company, Julius Berger Plc, carry out re-construction work on the badly damaged airport runway.
Sirika, who briefed reporters in Abuja yesterday after an inspection of the runway, explained that it will still be put to use during the six months of rehabilitation.
He, however, noted that the airport will be shut for six weeks between February and March, when the mid-section of the runway is being reconstructed.
According to Sirika, President Muhamadu Buhari approved the reconstruction work process through the emergency procurement procedure for work to begin because of the centrality, economy and the importance of Abuja to the country’s general administration.
He admitted that government cannot afford to close down Abuja airport for a long time, even as skeletal repairs have been ongoing at the runway in the last three months.
Sirika said: “Government has accepted the design done by the contractor and the runway will last for more than 10 years on completion early next year.”
On the six weeks closure of the airport to passenger traffic, he explained that Abuja bound passengers from any part of the world will use Kaduna airport as alternative, explaining that a robust arrangement has been finalised with Kaduna State to convey the passengers to Abuja.
On the aviation fuel scarcity, the minister said: “Talk is ongoing with oil marketers, the Ministry of Petroleum and Central Bank of Nigeria to resolve the crisis. Very soon, the country will be out of this, as we cannot be relying on Ghana for aviation fuel.”