By Omon-Julius Onabu
Asaba — Asaba International Airport has been closed for five weeks to traffic to enable contractors undertaking facility upgrade of the airport put finishing touches to the runway and other aspects of the project.
The Secretary to the Delta State Government (SSG), Hon Festus Ovie Agas, who disclosed this while flagging off the 2018 series of state ministerial briefing in Asaba, said that the temporary closure commenced yesterday (yesterday) and would last for five weeks.
Agas stressed that the state government had the firm assurances from the contractor handling the project, Setraco Nigeria Limited, that the remoulding work would have been concluded, adding that the Asaba International Airport would then be fully ready for serious business afterwards as the airport was poised to rank among the leading airports in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had, on April 27, 2015 announced the downgrading of the Asaba International Airport citing observed structural deficiencies and security lapses.
Although, at the time of the downgrade, the Uduaghan administration, which initiated the airport construction was winding down, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, commenced the remoulding of the airports with expanded contract terms.
However, the state government re-awarded the upgrading contract to Setraco in December, 2017 attributing the review to slow pace of remedial work by the original contractor, ULO consultants.
Nonetheless, briefing newsmen at the newly revamped Ministry of Information Conference Hall, Asaba, on Monday, the SSG noted that although remedial work on the Onitsha (east) end and Benin (west) end of the 3.4 kilometer runway had been completed, much work remained to be done at the middle of the runway tarmac, hence the five-week closure.
Flanked by the state commissioner for information, Mr. Patrick Ukah and senior officials from the office of the SSG and information ministry, Agas explained, “In order to further boost the economy of the state, the Asaba International Airport has been undergoing a major upgrade, especially the resurfacing of its runway and the provision of some vital technical facilities such as the Voice Communication System (VCS) the Automatic Weather Observation System lost.