By Amos Tauna
For the next six weeks, starting Wednesday, Kaduna International Airport in northwest Nigeria will play host to dignitaries from all walks of lives, flying in and outside the country. This is as a result of the approval of the Nigerian government temporary closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to rehabilitate its runway.
Kaduna Airport was designated as an option for its proximity to Abuja, while the repairs last. A committee has already been constituted to oversee the progress of the project to meet the stipulated time of six weeks for the International Airport to resume operation at Nigeria’s Capital, Abuja.
Industry sources said the work at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja-Nigeria has already been advertised with bids for the job coming from Gilmore, Julius Berger and PW. The runway has been in a bad state due to over-utilisation. Restructuring, therefore, which is part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan is imminent in the aviation industry.
According to the minister of state for aviation, Hadi Sirika, other key programmes of the present administration in the aviation industry include safety and security, infrastructural and airport concession, establishment of a national carrier, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul, MRO, facility, establishment of Agro-Allied cargo infrastructure and establishment of aircraft leasing company.
Preparatory to the commencement of the international flights to Kaduna Airport, it has led to more infrastructural upgrade. The Abuja-Kaduna Express way and other roads link to the Kaduna Airport have undergone major repairs to ensure hitch free flow of traffic and safety of passengers during the six weeks duration.
It is believe that more passengers would use the Abuja train to Kaduna for easy link to Kaduna Airport (already Nigerian Government has approved free ride to flight passengers heading to Abuja from Kaduna), while other passengers are believe to use the period to boost their economic activities thereby ensuring more revenue is accrued to the Nigeria Railway Corporation and also boost business activities in Kaduna.
The repair of Abuja-Kaduna deplorable road has been completed just as the Kaduna’s potholes riddled Bye-pass way has been fixed. The Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, while on tour of the Kaduna Airport and other logistics in Kaduna State North West of Nigeria before the commencement of the official take off of flights in Kaduna described the ongoing repair work as commendable insisting that appreciable progress is being recorded. He noted that not all foreign airlines that declined to use Kaduna Airport, stressing that some airlines were willing to come to Kaduna Airport such as Ethiopia aitline, among others. He said that the foreign airlines need to know that it is a temporary arrangement.
Experts noted that the take-off of foreign and local flights in Kaduna even in this temporal arrangement will revamp the economy of the state. It is also believe that big and small businesses will come back to life. The temporal arrangement of using Kaduna Airport has resulted in the ancient city of Kaduna wearing a new looks, a turning point that would bring the lost glory of the state.
Abuja-Kaduna road will experience tight security, the chairman of Ministerial Security Subcommittee on the movement of Abuja International Airport operations to Kaduna Airport, Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Operations, Alkali Baba Usman, said 24 hours security surveillance would be mounted around the Kaduna Airport and environs.
The Inspector General of Police, IGP, Idris Usman, while on tour of Kaduna Airport, revealed that aerial surveillance helicopters and anti-bomb experts have been deployed to handle security in every nook and cranny of Kaduna State ahead of the take-off of flights diversion from Abuja to Kaduna. He assured foreign travelers and other road users of adequate security of life and property to and from Abuja, adding that facilities like train and vehicles to convey passengers are ready.