FG To complete Benin Airport Upgrade In 12 months
The Federal Government has said that it will soon commence the upgrade of the Benin airport in Edo State to enable the facility to provide services to meet international standards.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, disclosed this to journalists in Benin, the state capital, on Monday.
Sirika said that the work, which was expected to be completed within 12 months, would also enable airlines to operate at night.
According to him, the upgrade includes an extension of the runway, installation of an instrument landing system and the provision of a perimeter fence.
He stated, “Benin will be turned into an international standard airport. Government is thinking of extending the runway to, at least, three kilometres. We are partnering the state government to achieve this. Also, the Instrument Landing System, which is not there, and the VOR, we will install them very soon.
“Work will commence within weeks and will be concluded in such a way that you can enter Benin and go out in bad weather, at night and in all conditions. There are other issues like the perimeter and operational fencing of the airport to complete and to generally address the issue here.”
Amidst concerns over safety in the nation’s airports, the minister noted that attention would be paid to areas that were critical to safety and security.
“They are more important for us than even the terminal buildings, which bring comfort to passengers. They (terminal buildings) are also important but what is more important is to arrive and depart the airports safely and securely, and we intend to do that,” he added.
While reacting to the reported overrun of the runway of the Akure airport, Ondo State, by a herd of cattle, Sirika said though the cows were found in the vicinity of the airport, rather than the runway, the country’s airports would be improved to make them more protected.
The minister explained, “I think in the issue of the cows in Akure, as claimed, what exactly happened was that there were cows in the vicinity of the airport.
“Now, in aviation and airport operation, safety is first. It was not that the cows were within the runway as reported. They were within the vicinity and they could cause some safety concerns. So, the tower advised the pilots to stay for five minutes to clear the cows within the vicinity and they did. And within five minutes, the flight landed.
“But of course, at the time, the executive governor was flying out and he took it to another level by saying cows were on the runway and showed pictures of cows on a road and claimed it was a runway. However, this is not allowed.
“Government has taken it very seriously. We are going to have all our airports in Nigeria thoroughly fenced and well-guarded; it is a function of availability of funds and the long decay the sector has suffered.
“We have improved upon these facilities and equipment within our airports to the point that most of our international airports now are safe and secure.”
When asked about the financial cost of the upgrade of the Benin airport, Sirika said, “The upgrade is in different sections. There is the airspace management of it, where we are dealing with the instrument landing system with the VOR.