By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Senate has begun probe into the design and construction of the runway of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The senate yesterday asked its Committee on Aviation to carry out a holistic investigation into the project.
The upper chamber also asked the Federal Ministry of Transport to as a matter of urgency, resurface and reconstruct the runway of the airport to meet international standards.
The senate however lampooned the deplorable condition of the airport, describing it as “technically unsafe.”
Resolutions of the senate yesterday were sequel to a motion by Senator Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North and entitled, “Need for Emergency Reconstruction of the Runway of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.”
Presenting the motion, Senator Utazi noted that the airport was the first airport in the East of the Niger that was built even before Nigeria’s independence and was only upgraded to the status of International Airport on August 24, 2013.
His motion read thus: “Informed that while aboard an Air Peace flight from Abuja to Enugu, the pilot made a chilling announcement about the state of the runway of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport and enjoined passengers on board who could get the necessary authorities to listen to help in immediately setting about the resurfacing of the runway to forestall accident as the potholes and cracks potmarking the runway make take-off and landing a bumpy and frightening undertaking;
“Observes that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu is the first Airport East of the Niger that was built even before Nigeria’s independence and was only upgraded to the status of International Airport on August 24, 2013, long after PortHarcourt Airport was;
“Notes that the runway before it was upgraded was 2400 metres length and 45 metres width but after the upgrade, it was extended to 3000 metres length which can now take medium to large size aircraft;
“Informed that a result of a technical appraisal shows that due to high water table of the airport, water percolates and gets trapped between upper asphalt and bottom concrete and this persistent retention of water weakens asphalt and creates potholes and cracks as a result of the weight of landing aircrafts which are now heavier than the aircrafts of the 60s and 70s
“Informed that palliative works carried out in the last quarter of 2017 to create water drains embedded in the asphalt surface end to end have not solved the problem as transition between new asphalt and old asphalt makes the surface rough and bumpy;
“Further informed that the airport also lacks approach lights at two ends of the runway which has necessitated that the airport operates between 7am to 7pm and the nearness of the runway to Orie Emene market attracts birds which perch around refuse dumps and abattoirs in the market that are awfully dangerous to aircraft engines especially during takeoff and landing.”