By Uzoh Ugwueze, Enugu
Disquiet has greeted the non-commencement of flight operations at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, more than one week after the facility was commissioned in a lavish ceremony.
This has made many observers to begin to see the commissioning ceremony performed by the Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika as ‘deceptive.’
Orient Daily reports that commercial flights are yet to start landing at the airport despite the pronouncement by the Minister. Also worrisome is the litany of uncompleted projects littering the place.
However, the South-East Governors have made clarifications on the uncompleted projects, insisting that all was well.
They said contrary to belief in some quarters, the people of the South-East were not deceived by the Federal Government. They spoke through the Works Committee set up by the Forum to monitor the rehabilitation work at the Airport.
Chairman of the Committee, Engr. Chris Okoye said everything needed for commercial flights to resume had been put in place. However, though Okoye had assured that flights would commence on Monday, September 7, that is yet to happen.
Okoye, who emphatically disclosed that the first phase of the project had been completed, said the terminal building rehabilitation was not part of the initial contract. He disclosed that most of the second phase projects were initiated following the intervention of the committee.
He identified the first phase of the project to include the rehabilitation of the runway, the airfield lighting, the runway markings and minor associated works with the runway.
Most of these, he said, have been completed, apart from the airfield lighting contract which, he said, is expected to have gotten to a level that allows night operations at a visibility not less than 1000 meters by Monday September 7.
The committee listed the ongoing projects which Okoye said are being handled by FAAN and other stakeholders to include the terminal building, which is at 35% completion. Others are the Entrance Toll Gate, drainage work, Aviation clinic perimeter fence/access road which were not part of the initial project but embarked upon to give the airport a face-lift.
Engr. Okoye further noted that the ongoing jobs would not affect flight operations at the airport.
The second phase of the project, according to him, include: “EOC, clinic, external drainages, additional parking lot, renovation of the existing terminal building, entrance gate, and overlay of external roads.”
On the status of pending works, he said, “We should be able to achieve the following before Monday 7th September 2020- basic approach lighting system on both runways, runway edge lights, threshold and runway end lights, taxiway edge lights.
“The following equipment will be installed from 7th of September- runway centre light, touchdown zone lights, CAT I Approach on RWY, CAT II Approach on RWY, signage and stop bars.”
The chairman said: “There are other projects being handled by NAMA in upgrading the navigational facilities, including installation of new satellite communication (VSAT), which facilitates the availability of RCAG (Remote Control Air to Ground), ATS/DS (Air traffic Services Direct Speech – Airport to Airport hotline communication via satellite), AFTN (Data exchanges between Akanu Ibiam and other airports around the world via satellite).”
Others are installation of extended range VHF radio coverage for upper air communication for the South-East corridor using 127.3MHZ, installation of new signal lamp, installation of new rotating beacon, among others.
A source at the Airport, however, said stakeholders were still working out modalities for the commencement of commercial flight operations, which he said could happen before the end of the week.