By Joseph Inokotong
The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has called on the federal government to jettison its proposed six weeks closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The NSE said the Airport closure may unleash phenomenal and devastating impact on the competiveness of the country’s economy, which is already steeped in deep recession, notwithstanding the adverse security implications that might be associated with the proposed plan.
It advised the federal government to adopt the operational models of Uli and Frankfurt airports to keep the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja open while working in damaged sections.
The NSE recommended that the construction of the second runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja must commence immediately.
Engr. Otis Anyaeji, FNSE, FAEng, President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) who disclosed this yesterday at a press conference in Abuja cited as an example, Uli airport runway which was kept opened during the civil war through quick fixes to crater caused by exploding bombs.
According to Anyaeji, “another example is the replacement of the aging Frankfurt Airport runway in 2005, closure of the runway was not an option. All work was scheduled in a seven-and-a-half hour night-time window over 300 nights in 15m section of the main runway. The replacement material by dawn was hard enough to hold a Boeing 747 and cool enough not to explode its tyres. This and other similar projects are seen as likely template for other airport renovations.”
The NSE reemphasized the need to collapse all transport modes (railway, road, marine, aviation) into Federal Ministry of Transport for greater efficiency and improved management.
It also recognized and praised the effort of the leadership of the national assembly (NASS) in driving the transport sector reforms and encouraged the executive arm of government to key in.
Engr. Anyaeji further stated “We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint competent and professionally exposed Nigerian engineers to head engineering/infrastructure ministries as a way to strengthening the change agenda.
“NSE has just received report which indicates failure of the recently completed Enugu airport runway by PW. In order to avoid similar predicament and possible closure in future, it is recommended that the model proposed here be adopted for Enugu and any other airport with similar problems.”
The NSE stressed that shutting down the only runway will create enormous ripple effects for all the passengers and cargo traffic flowing in and out of NAIA, Abuja which is an airport hub, noting that “in far worse scenarios, committed efforts have kept airports operational while maintenance/repairs are on-going.”
It further explained that the importance of the aviation sector to Nigerian economy and the potential negative impact of the proposed 6-week airport closure, had necessitated the NSE’s response to the Federal Ministry of Transport (Aviation) Stakeholders’ Forum Newspaper advert by “sending a robust representation to the Stakeholders’ Forum led by the NSE Deputy President,” pointing out that “unfortunately, the decision of the Hon Minister of State (Aviation) to limit contributions to only three stakeholders precluded the views of NSE from being heard. This necessitated a short intervention through a short press interview at the end of the Stakeholders Forum by the Chairman, Board of Fellows NSE which was aired in some television channels.”