By Uche Mbah
The threat of closing down Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu may be put on hold going by ongoing discussions between the State government and Ministry of Aviation.
Recall that the Ministry has threatened to downgrade and close down the Airport due to Security issues raised by the Ministry. These included incessant bird strikes, bad runway, a market nearby, the Enugu Free trade zone and other issues.
But Enugu state government rose from an emergency State Executive Council, SEC meeting and immediately ordered the relocation of the Emene Market. Bulldozers moved in almost immediately for the demolition.
According to the Commissioner for information, Bob Ogbuagu Anikwe, this could have been affected earlier but for the hostile nature of the youths of the zone who fought and demonstrated against the relocation. Even the Export processing zone handlers are willing to do something to comply with the complaints of the ministry.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, already, in a stakeholders meeting in Lagos, acknowledged the efforts of all involved in addressing the issue. He, however, was silent on whether hw will still downgrade the Airport.
This Magazine was told that there has been intense lobbying and negotiations from Political bigwigs from the Southeast geopolitical zones, including the Enugu state government. Former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka, confirmed the incessant bird strikes around the airport from personal experience. “The Pilot told me this was the third time he was experiencing the same thing on the route”, he said. He too has been in contact with the ministry giving suggestions on the way forwards.
It will be recalled that when Abuja Airport had runway issues, Kaduna was upgraded to serve temporarily as a relief until Abuja was fixed.”The same thing could be done with Owerri Airport if the Government is serious and not pursuing vendetta”, said an Enugu state government official who talked to this magazine.