The Federal Government plans to demolish illegal structures standing on the runway the Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA), Enugu that is earmarked for rehabilitate.
Information about the demolition emerged on Wednesday when a joint team of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) inspected the airport.
As part of the planned rehabilitation, there are indications that the runway of the airport may be shut down temporarily as done for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja last year.
Also, to make the airport operational at night, the government has procured Instrument Landing System (ILS) and airfield lighting system which would be installed once the right of way is acquired.
It would be recalled that the Southeast Governors had cried out to the Federal Government to intervene by rehabilitating the airport.
Though the Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Mukhtar Usman said the runway is still in good shape and meets international safety requirements, he explained that there is the need to improve the landing and riding quality of aircraft on the runway.
“We came here by air and we landed except for the landing quality, there is a lot that can be done to improve on the riding quality of the runway and it is because of those failures that you see in some areas.
“Plans are on the way to carry out similar works that took place in Abuja runway to ensure longer life, better riding quality for the runway.
“We have some international flights coming to Enugu, some are three times a week.
“Dreamliner lands here, Boeing 777 also lands here, especially for cargo.
“Generally speaking, we will say the runway is still very safe to operate. This is in line with the government policy to ensure that whatever is done is in line with the international standard.
“Arrangements are being made to rehabilitate the runway,” Usman said.
Similarly, the acting Managing Director of FAAN, Mr Salisu Daura gave insight on the planned installation of the ILS and airfield lighting system, noting that a clear distance of one kilometre was required to carry out the installation.
Daura, who is also the Director of Engineering of FAAN, said many structures and buildings would have to be demolished “because we only have 420 meters instead of the one kilometre we need.”
“Safety is very paramount in aviation. You can’t have aircraft hovering so low over a populated area. Definitely, certain structures must go,” Daura said.
During the inspection, the team visited Orie Emene market and Methodist Church Nigeria Central School in Emene which are parts of the structures that might have to give way for the installation of the improved landing system.
The aviation authorities are, however, soliciting for the cooperation of the state government to fast-track the acquisition of the right of way to be able to install the equipment.