Tuesday, 7 March 2017


Nigeria has formally announced the temporary closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in the capital Abuja.

The airport will be closed for six weeks, beginning 12 am on Wednesday March 8, in order to repair the runway which is in a shocking state of disrepair.

Flights are being directed to a smaller airport in Kaduna, 250 km north of Abuja, but, most international airlines have rejected the plan saying its not safe for flight operations and are re-routing flights to Lagos until the repair works are done.

Passengers will be ferried free of charge by a bus on a roughly 3-hour trip to Abuja along a road famous for kidnappings and banditry in a region where nomadic herdsmen and farmers engage in frequent deadly clashes. Officers from the air force, road safety corps and the secret police will be posted along the road linking the two cities, and officials have assured the public that everyone will be safe.

The Abuja airport is a key lifeline for the west African economy. According to report , it recorded 2.26 million passengers in the first half of 2016.

The closure comes at a time that Nigeria's aviation industry is in disarray and the country is dealing with recession.

The closure of the airport was announced by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, at a world press conference Monday in Abuja.

Also speaking, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the government has kept its promise to make Kaduna Airport ready for use as alternative.

The Minister of State in charge of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the government has set up a website: www.abujaairportclosure.info, through which information will be shared with Nigerians.

So far, only one international airline has agreed to use Kaduna airport, Sirika said.

The Abuja airport opened in 1982, and it hasn't had a thorough resurfacing since then, said Henrietta Yakubu, acting general manager of the corporate affairs for the Department for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.

Temporary patches put on the runway every few weeks by maintenance crews are no longer working, Yakubu said.

"Proper maintenance should have been done, but it wasn't done," she said.

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