Managing director and chief executive officer of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Engr. Saleh Dunoma has assured that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja runway will be ready today.
With this development, work on the runway would have been completed two days before the reopening date of the runway for air traffic.
Assuring the general public of the readiness of the runway, Dunoma said, “We will be ready by Monday, the April 17, but we are leaving the remaining two days for Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) because they have to certify that what we have done at the airport is in accordance with their standards. If they do that, we will bring in the traffic. But if they do not, we have the opportunity of making corrections within the two days we have saved”.
On the reopening of the runway on April 19, Dunoma said there was no doubt about that, as the federal government was set to open the airport as scheduled.
His words: “Just as I have said, we have been working with NCAA throughout the period they have been making corrections. But for formality, we need to check and make sure that all the necessary corrections meet the requirement of the civil aviation authority.
“All the critical items of work are 100 per cent except maybe two items, which of course is the markings and the cleaning. The other critical item is not works but the inspection by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority which will come and certify that the repairs that had been carried out is satisfactory and give us the go ahead to bring in traffic to Abuja.
“Asphalt work is 100 per cent, markings have reached almost 70 per cent, the airfield lighting system has reached 80 per cent. There is additional work which has nothing to do with this repair but we are seizing the opportunity of the closure of the airport to do. This has to do with the APEX (Airport Excellence in Safety) related items”.
Meanwhile, the director general of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Muhtar Usman has scored the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja runway project 99 percent in terms of completion after carrying out an audit on the runway.
Captain Usman who also gave the runway a clean bill of health said NCAA, along with FAAN, conducted an inspection yesterday. “We were able to see that the job has been done well up to at least 99% completion. We believe the remaining work will be completed on or before the official opening date”, he stated.
Usman also commented on some items found that were not safety critical about the project. He said, “However, we made some findings as it is usual with any kind of audit. What we found out where items that are not safety-critical. Those items will not stop the opening of this airport, they will not affect safety. The findings have been communicated to the owner of the airport, FAAN.
“We are expecting a corrective action plan that will come with timelines that will address those issues. But as I mentioned earlier, those items that we found are not safety critical and then cannot affect the opening. The job has been well done. The technology employed is the latest and we believe Nigerians will be happy”.
Responding, the managing director of FAAN, Engr. Dunoma said the items found by NCAA will be corrected after the agreed action plan and timeline with NCAA.
Dunoma said, “The inspection has been conducted. Since the beginning of the project, this is the major inspection that was conducted. Although we have been working in collaboration with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority but of course we have to adhere to procedures and this procedure is that after the completion or near completion of the project, an inspection will be conducted. The inspection will have to be conducted by both our engineers from NCAA, FAAN, the consultant and the contractors. They have made some findings and just like the DG has said, they are not safety critical.
“It is normal; after a huge project like this, such findings will be there. All we need to do is to adhere to the procedure, which means we have to respond to those findings by writing to the NCAA our action plan and timeline. This will be submitted immediately. We will work together with the contractor to make sure that all these findings are corrected within the timeline that we are going to agree with NCAA. And of course, after the final inspection will be conducted, we believe we will be given a clean bill of health by the NCAA”.
An official of Julius Berger who was part of the inspection, Dr. Lars Richter, was happy on how far the project had gone.
Richter said, “We are really proud to be part of this project. It was quite a bit challenging to finish the project within six weeks. At the beginning, everybody in Nigeria was concerned. Not everybody was happy that the airport was closed for six weeks. But we, together with FAAN, the contractors, have delivered the runway within six weeks and it was a good cooperation because the task was really tight. At the end of this inspection, everybody could see the prove that the runway is finished. The runway is delivered on the highest quality. We can say for the next ten years, it will remain there of course with good maintenance.
“We as Julius Berger now have the knowledge of the airport. We are ready also for the second runway or extension of whatsoever here on Abuja airport. I am happy that all the concerns are gone. We can open the runway on time so that we get the access back to Nigeria”.