Doubts over the possibility of meeting the March 31, deadline for the completion of ongoing rehabilitation works at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu over the weekend triggered fresh concerns among major stakeholders.
The Federal Government has since the closure of the airport on August 24, 2019, insisted that the facility would be open for use from the first week of April.
However, checks have revealed that the target may not be met after all because of the unavailability of the recommended dust required for the asphalting of the runway.
An aviation source confided that it had been difficult for the contractor to source enough dust for the work.
Stated the source: “Work is really moving at high speed and we hope that the two ends of the concrete would be completed before mid-March. But the challenge now is the dust, the recommendation is that 50 per cent of asphalt will be dust and only about five quarries can produce the kind of dust required. And these quarries can only produce 500 tons every day when they need 1,500tons daily. At the moment, they are producing 2,000 tons of asphalt every day which is quite phenomenal”.
Information further gathered from Ministry of Aviation sources revealed that the contractor should have by last week received 30 per cent payment in addition to the initial 40 per cent release.
It was also gathered that other milestones recorded so far at the airport are the award of the perimeter fencing expected to commence this week and the airfield lighting that would enable night operations.
Said he: “The airfield lighting to be done by a German contractor has been awarded. The company has state of the art equipment. It is expected that they will start laying the cables now that the concrete work at one end is yet to be done. One end of it is still at the form level.”
In addition, contract for the construction of a clinic at the airport was reportedly awarded last Friday. The airport never had a clinic; instead, the source said “What they had before now was a small hut”.
The Federal Government’s consultant handling the project, Mr Sani Baba, assured that the airport will be in use by the first week of April.