By Uche Mbah
The Senate has, in their last plenary, kicked against the plans by the presidency to downgrade Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu over security issues. Instead, they asked the Federal government to make efforts to repair and expand the runway to reduce the security risks that the Aviation ministry has complained about.
Recall that the Minister of Aviation, in a Town hall meting in Lagos, has said that the airport will be downgraded due to security concerns. He cited the dangerous runway, the location of an abattoir and Market at the end of the runway, Bird strikes and other issues as reason. The state government, rising from a State Executive Council meeting, had closed down the Emene market and abattoir, at the same time making efforts to relocate the Business zone near the airport.
Last Thursday, the Senate resolved that the Airport should not be downgraded after Senator victor Umeh raised the issue at Plenary. The Senate rather recommended that the Federal government should repair the runway to ensure adequate security of aircraft and passengers. Besides, Government must take steps to complete the new Terminal building and make it available for local and International airlines to use,they said.
Besides, the perennial water problems should be solved by developing a water source from the nearby Ekulu River.
The senate commended the state government for promptly closing down Orie Emene, and the nearby abattoir and removal of Broadcasting masts from the airport area.
According to Senator Ike Ekweremmadu, the Deputy Senate President, the Airport is not just for Enugu people alone but caters for all and sundry.
“This matter has been on for a long time and every day we just keep our fingers crossed and pray nothing bad happens”, he said.
“I am happy the Senate has brought it up and this should be looked into by the government to repair the Enugu runway. As it stands now, flights do not land at night in Enugu. The Federal Government needs to look at the landing lights so that lives can be saved”.