The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika has hinted that the construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja would be dependent on the availability of funds for the project.
Sirika, who expressed the commitment of the current administration to build another runway in order to meet the increasing demand of the Abuja Airport, however did not give a specific time frame for the commencement of the project.
The Minister who disclosed this recently while speaking on a radio programme in Abuja.
According to him, “Second runway, well, I wouldn’t be able to give timeline to second runway, when it’s coming and when it’s finishing is subject to availability of fund. But, Mr. President has brought up the idea long before today that second runway is a necessity.”
“I must explain and plead with the Nigerian citizens especially the press or media that, when we attempted to do the second runway in the past, the cost of doing the second runway became very astronomical from what the companies/contractors were charging. Nigerians reacted rightfully and of course, the whole idea was abandoned and I was thinking that this probably may not be the right way go, they should have actually tried to kill the cost instead of killing the project.”
Sirika noted that they (Nigerians) should have reacted to the cost and forced government of that time to do it within a reasonable cost rather than abandon the project.
“When I was a member of the House of Representatives, the government of that time wanted to buy presidential airplane for $80 million, which they put in the budget, and I saw the airplane and as expert, I found out that that airplane will cost not more than $30 million.
“So, I fought, and I got my colleagues to support me and we fought it and government bought the airplane at $30 million. So, we saved $50 million. That is the airplane that Mr. President is currently using.
“So, if we had killed the project, we would have lost the airplane. Therefore, the second runway, what we ought to do at that time was to kill the cost and allow the project to go. Second runway will come to pass. We will have a second runway in Abuja by the grace of God.”
He added that, “Mr. President has already directed and everybody is working, the National Planning, the Finance, even the National Assembly are excited about it. We in the ministry are working so hard and everybody is on it.
“We will have a second runway in Abuja by the grace of God. All our major airports have second runway, Lagos has second runway, Port Harcourt has second runway which is the military, and Kano state airport has a second runway. It’s only Abuja which is the nation’s capital, which is the fastest growing city in Africa that has no second runway.”