As the Federal Government sets to divert Abuja-bound flights to the Kaduna International Airport from next week, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday observed that the facility might not be 100 per cent ready by Wednesday, but would be suitable for operations.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja will be shut to flight services from midnight of Wednesday, March 7, 2016 in order to carry out repairs on its runway and taxiways for a period of six weeks.
Speaking to journalists after inspecting the Kaduna airport on Friday, Osinbajo stated that a lot of progress had been recorded at the facility, but noted that there were still some things that must be completed as fast as possible.
He said, “We are here to inspect the progress of work at the Kaduna airport because it will serve as a temporary substitute to the Abuja airport for both local and international flights that should have come into Abuja airport. So basically, what we are trying to do is to look at the state of readiness.
“This has always been a local airport and so a lot of work obviously needs to be done to bring it up to the required standard. The work has made considerable progress, but there’s still a lot to be done and some of it are going to be completed over this weekend, especially the ceiling, air-conditioning and all that.
“So we think that it will not be in a complete state of readiness by Wednesday, but I expect that within a very, very short period, it will be ready.”
The Acting President said the government had directed the contractors handling the project to hasten it by increasing the number of workers on the project site.
“We’ve certainly told them that they should increase their speed and double the number of persons who are working on the ceilings and on some other facilities. They certainly need to work much faster and much more diligently in order to meet the schedule,” he said.
Osinbajo urged foreign airlines to cooperate with the Federal Government as the diversion of flights from Abuja to Kaduna was only temporary.
He said, “We have some of them (foreign airlines) here today who are willing to come. I think that what we need to tell the foreign airlines is that this is an emergency.
“It is a temporary arrangement and they should really work with us. We are as concerned about safety and comfort as they are and they are here also to see for themselves.
“So we will be happy if they work with us. We will be happy if they see this as a temporary arrangement. We are persuading them that this is temporary.”
In a related development, the Federal Ministry of Transportation on Friday said that Osinbajo would perform the ground breaking to mark the commencement of the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan railway.
“The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) will on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 perform the ground breaking to mark the commencement of the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan railway, which is the second segment of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge railway system with an extension to the Lagos Port complex, Apapa,” the ministry said in a statement issued in Abuja.