- NCAA: Project 99 per cent completed
- Airport opens Wednesday
The runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, would be ready today, two days ahead of the deadline.
Managing Director Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engr. Saleh Dunoma, gave the assurance in Abuja yesterday. “We will be ready April 17, but we are leaving the remaining two days for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
They have to certify that what we have done is in accordance with their standards. “If there is any obseration as a result of the inspection, we will now make sure we carry out corrections,” the FAAN boss said after inspecting the progress of work at the airport.
He maintained that with the work done, the April 19 deadline for the reopening of the airport is no longer in doubt.
He said, as at yesterday, all the critical items of work on the runway were 100 per cent completed. Speaking after carrying out an audit on the runway, the Director- General of NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, said the airport runway project was 99 per cent completed. Usman said: “We were able to see that the job has been done well up to at least 99 per cent completion.
We believe that the remaining work will be completed on or before the official opening date.” The NCAA DG said what was found during the audit were some items that were not critical to safety and would not stop the reopening of the airport scheduled for April 19.
“The findings have been communicated to the owner of the airport, FAAN. We are expecting a corrective action plan that will come with timelines that will address those issues. “But as I mentioned earlier, those items that we found are not safety critical and they cannot affect the opening. “The job has been welldone.
The technology employed is the latest and we believe Nigerians will be happy,” he said. Responding, Dunoma said the items identified by NCAA would be corrected in accordance with the agreed action plan and timeline.
Dunoma said: “The inspection has been conducted. Since the beginning of the project, this is the major inspection that was conducted.
“We have been working in collaboration with the NCAA, but of course we have to adhere to procedures and the procedure is that after the completion or near completion of the project, an inspection will be conducted.
“The inspection will have to be conducted by engineers from NCAA, FAAN, the consultant and the contractors.
They have made some findings just like the DG has said, they are not safety critical. “It is normal after huge project like this, such findings will be there.
All we need to do is to adhere to the procedure, which means we have to respond to those findings by writing to the NCAA on our action plan and timeline.
“This will be submitted immediately. We will work together with contractor to make sure that all these findings are corrected within the timelines that we are going to agree with NCAA.
“And of course, after the final inspection will be conducted then, we believe we will be given a clean bill of health by the NCAA,” he said. On his part, an official of Julius Berger who was part of the inspection, Dr. Lars Richter, expressed satisfaction with the level of completion of the project. He said: “It was quite a bit challenging to finish the project within six weeks.
Together with FAAN, the contractors have delivered the runway within six weeks and it was a good cooperation because the task was really tight. “At the end of this inspection, everybody could see the proof that the runway is finished.
The runway is delivered on the highest quality. We can say for the next 10 years, it will remain there of course with good maintenance.”
Earlier, Dunoma had told newsmen that the remaining items to be completed were the marking, airfield lighting and surface cleaning.
He added that the marking of the runway had reached 70 per cent; the airfield lighting system had attained 80 per cent, while the surface cleaning had commenced. According to him, there is additional work which has to do with the Airport Excellence in Safety (APEX) related items which FAAN is using the closure opportunity to achieve.
“Asphalt work is 100 per cent, markings have reached almost 70 per cent, and the airfield lighting system has reached 80 per cent.
“All the critical items of work are 100 per cent, except maybe two items, which of course is the markings and the cleaning.
“Other critical item remaining is the inspection by the NCAA who will certify that the repairs that had been carried out is satisfactory and give us go ahead to bring in traffic.
“We are now levelling all the airfield lightings’ locations, all the installations and flash with the ground surface. “In case of any skidding, there will not be concrete projection above the ground surface,” he said.
On the calibration of Navigational Aids, Dunoma said the work was only carried out on the runway, adding that NAVAIDS were not tampered with.
He explained that the airfield lightings that were tampered with were being restored; adding that the runway would be checked to ensure that there was 100 per cent illumination.
According to him, calibration is periodical and when the time for the calibration comes, the appropriate authority will calibrate the Instrument Landing System (ILS). On the terminal building, the FAAN boss said the authority would improve on all the services there by carrying out total repair of all the items that were bad.
The Abuja airport was shut on March 8 for six weeks to enable Julius Berger to rebuild the 3.6 kilometre runway. Subsequently, flights were diverted to Kaduna International Airport.
The runway, which was constructed in 1982, was meant to last for 20 years, but had been in use for 35 years without major repairs and maintenance. According to the official records, Kaduna airport has recorded over 3,533 flights and 170,150 passengers since the beginning of the operation.
Traffic is expected to return to Abuja from April 19 as many airlines are already putting plans in place to return their operation to the airport.