The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Barr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, has projected that an additional N81 billion will be needed to complete the second runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The Minister stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at the ministry’s 2024 Budget Proposal to the Joint Committees of Aviation of the National Assembly. He proposed N63 billion 2024 budget for the entire Ministry and its Agencies. However, an additional N81bn outside of the proposed budget will be required to procure the second runway for the Abuja airport.
The procurement of a second runway for the airport has lingered for over two decades and spans back to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo era. The Buhari government concluded work on the design. N72 billion was initially projected for the building of the runway which would be the longest in the world when completed.
The absence of a second runway for the Abuja airport, the capital city of Nigeria, is now viewed as a safety issue. Once there is an incidence on the existing runway, however small, the airport shuts down until the aircraft is moved to safety. Recall in 2016, the airport was shut down for 6 weeks for runway repairs with attendant billions of losses in revenues.
The federal government recently took custody of the land the 4KM runway will be built on from Jiwa Community located on the airport road.
The Minister said that critical projects such as Abuja 2nd runway, and the upgrade and rehabilitation of the old terminal of Lagos airport were vital projects that need urgent attention. He expressed the danger associated with having only one runway for a capital city like Abuja.
Speaking further, Keyamo appealed to the 10th Assembly joint committee for the procurement of consultancy for the design of a Master plan for major airports in Nigeria, stating the need to give more attention to the area of safety with the procurement of equipment.
The minister further informed the committee that Mr. President has graciously approved the purchase of screening machines for the 5 international airports in Nigeria.
On the issue of airport concession, the Minister said, he has taken into consideration the concerns of the 9th Assembly as regards the non-transparent manner it was conducted but affirmed that concession is the way to go for the 5 international airports in Nigeria.
He informed the committee that he had written a memo to Mr. President for a quality concession process for the Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Enugu airports.