IN the wake of last week stakeholders’ forum , stakeholders are of the opinion that the Minister of state Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika should have allowed the Aviation parastatals to speak for themselves on the preparation based on the fact that most stakeholders feel the agencies are not prepared.Sirika, had on Friday given assurance on the readiness of the Kaduna International Airport for operations during the six – week closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja while briefing newsmen during an inspection tour of the Airport on Friday in Kaduna.
The minister also assured that the terminal building under construction which is at completion stage would meet the March 8 deadline.
“From what we have seen including the tiling, the furniture and everything that is in place, the terminal building will be ready before the due date. But just in case like in aviation, we always provide for fail safe and redundant equipment, and we are ready for eventuality in case something may come up that we may not be able to resolve,” he said.
However, according to Group Captain John Ojikutu, the minister did all the talking, responded to all questions and tried to clear doubts expressed by the airlines and private aircraft operators. He however wished these agencies were given the opportunity to do respective briefing on their facilities and plan operations for Kaduna airport.
He said,” Most attendees at briefing had expected to hear particularly from the government operators and safety services providers. For instance from FAAN; what is the state of the runway especially, when last was it cleaned in accordance with its maintenance programmes? What is the status or category of the fire service including water hydrants and the availability of water?”
“ Is the category of fire and emergency management services up to the required standard for most international traffic aircraft? What is the status of the visual approach slide indicators (VASI) or precision approach plan indicator (PAPI)? What are the status of the airfield approach, runway and taxiway lightings?”
He continued,”NAMA too should be able to convince the airlines and private aircraft operators on the status of the airport and runway approach aids such as the VOR, ILS and DME. Am aware that airlines are expected to key into the Performance Base Navigation (PBN) but judging from reports during the recent inclement weather of reduced visibility in harmattan, we know now that not all the domestic airlines have been able to meet the requirements and the NCAA has been passive about the enforcement. “
“The questions now is; in the event that some airlines may need to fly on VOR and ILS, when last were these navaids calibrated?”
According to him, his earlier disagreement as to Kaduna being the choice alternative were dissuaded after hearing out all the disadvantages and also said that other choices including Ilorin, Jos and Markurdi were not also good enough.
“This piece is not in any way to express any disagreement with the repairs on the Abuja airport runway which is coming six years too late. It is also not a disagreement to the choice of Kaduna which l believe is a better choice to Minna for domestic airlines operations because of its closeness to Abuja; but l realized later that the road connecting Minna to Abuja is in despair and the apron may not accommodate more than six aircraft of the size of B737.”
“Ilorin, Jos and Makurdi which some other persons have suggested are as far as Kaduna is to Abuja but they lack dual carriage ways and train services that would facilitate traffic movement of passengers to Abuja. In any case this is an operational arrangement that is not expected to last more than than six weeks possibly 8 weeks not 6 months or 12 months. Moreover, the Hon Minister has assured stakeholders that the second runway will come on stream with the concession of Abuja airport which hopefully would be in this 2017.”
“It was obvious from the foreign airlines contribution that they are not convinced that Kaduna is an option for them especially since the airport does not operate frequent international flights only seasonal. They had asked the minister if there would be increase in domestic flights to Kaduna which the minister assured them and which l believe would determine or serve their economic decision.”