May 31, 2023

Nigeria Transport Hub

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L-R: Engr. Akin Olateru, Director General, NSIB, Capt. Hamisu Yadudu, MD, FAAN, Sen. Hadi Sirika, Aviation Minister, Mr. Norris Anozie, Director HR & Admin, Capt. Mukhtaron Yusuf Muye, Director, Airport Operations, Mr. Sadiku Abdulkadir Rafindadi, Director, of Commercial & Biz Devlpt, and the Country Manager, Gulf of Africa Int’l, Mr. Mohammad Javeef, on the inspection tour of runway 18R

Independent investigation has revealed that the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, runway 18Right/36Left, is progressing systematically according to plan.

The pace of work is akin to the very first project with which the aviation minister, Sen. Hadi Sirika, warmed himself to the hearts of stakeholders and the generality of Nigerians, by the completion ahead of schedule, the total overhaul of the only runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, NAIA, Abuja, in 2016.

Recall the depth of depreciation of the NAIA Abuja runway prior to the minister’s intervention. Air France cannot forget its experience in a hurry. The airline lost a landing gear to the Abuja airport runway and not a few other international airlines had tales of financial losses to tell as a direct consequence of using the dilapidated runway.

However, immediately after Sen. Hadi Sirika assumed office, he needed no pep talk, nor confer with anyone or any group before taking headlong, the task of a total overhaul of the only runway, at the nation’s seat of government.

L-R: Sen. Hadi Sirika, Aviation Minister, Mr. Norris Anozie, Director HR & Admin, FAAN, listening to the explanation on a point of interest from the Engineer

Although the execution of the rehabilitation work brought a lot of discomfort to airlines, passengers, airport managers, and everyone whose service delivery either in the formal or informal sectors of the airport’s commercial activities felt the pains.

We can still remember the temporary disruption the project brought to every airport user. Kaduna Airport which originally is the alternate airport played a dual role very well.

However, when the airport returned to service with a reconstructed and congruent runway to scale, everyone was happy about it. The temporary disruption was forgotten and a new lease of business environment emerged to the benefit of everyone.

That pattern thus becomes a feature in runway maintenance and rehabilitation under the oversight of Sen. Hadi Sirika, with the day-to-day management by Capt. Hamisu Rabiu Yadudu.

Another runway rehabilitation project recently completed with Air Field Lighting, AFL, was the runway 18Left and 36Right, (18L/36R) at the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, MMA, Ikeja, Lagos.

The AFL of the runway was abandoned for about a decade and a half before its messiahs arrived, in the duo of Sen. Hadi Sirika, aviation minister, and the indefatigable Capt Hamisu Rabiu Yadudu, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.

Crouching to illustrate a vital point on the construction to his guests is Capt Hamisu Yadudu, MD, FAAN. Listening with rapt attention is Sen. Hadi Sirika, Aviation Minister, his entourage and the management staff of FAAN

They both had an uphill task to surmount before anything could be done on the runway. Why, because the contract had initially been awarded to the contractor who built the runway but failed to complete the job with the installation of state-of-the-art airfield lighting.

According to Capt Yadudu, to get a contract re-awarded for a job initially approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, and of which funds made available would need interministerial effort at the level of the minister.

This task Yadudu said the minister stood up for and ensured all those government regulations and conditionalities were satisfied. Also, aspects of the bureaucratic paraphernalia were tweaked yet in concord with the financial management in contract award by the procurement regulation of the federal government.

FAAN MD said those steps were the preliminary activities though time-consuming and cumbersome hurdles that had to be surmounted before the project could be re-awarded- request for tender, appraising the tenders, choosing the preferred bidder, and mobilization to site.

He added the minister was there through thick and thin like the rock of Gibraltar for FAAN in order to put to the past, the completion of the much-touted runway 18L AFL.

Aviation Minister’s entourage, and the management of FAAN on an inspection of the runway 18Right

Another hassle was how to achieve minimum disruption to air travel operations without an iota of threat to safety within the timeline for the execution of the project.

There were hues and cries from nearly all quarters imaginable- Engineers, Pilots, Management experts, etc, that argued for and against FAAN’s work plan for the installation of the airfield lighting.

One aspect that was fascinating was that against all odds and pessimism expressed, more so coming from no mean personalities in the industry, Capt Hamisu Yadudu stood his ground and at all times, at anywhere accosted for an explanation for his strong conviction, he was never too busy nor economical with the facts not to reiterate his entire outlook on the project.

True to his promise, the airfield lighting came alive ahead of schedule, in imitation of his boss’s set record in the Abuja runway rehabilitation. No issue of any kind. A grand success. The closed runway opened as scheduled, and especially the airlines heaved a sigh of relief.

By the present pace of work (on the MMIA runway 18R/36L) as witnessed when the Minister inspected the project after the commissioning of the eight (8) pieces of fire fighting trucks, everyone present was satisfied with the extent of work the contractor had accomplished, and the quality of job found very satisfactory.

Sen. Hadi Sirika, Aviation Minister, and his entourage inspecting the level and quality of work on the MMIA runway 18R

Other improvements brought in on the job made the FAAN MD at ease that all were progressing as planned right from the draft table.

While on the inspection, Sen Hadi Sirika also expressed satisfaction with what he had so far seen and further conferred with the MD who gave a reassuring nod that in less than four weeks the project will be delivered.

Cursory observers noted that in the evening of the day of inspection, Saturday 31st March 2023, the minister on returning to base in Abuja, reached for his Twitter handle to joyfully announce to Nigerians, the lofty progress recorded on the runway rehabilitation.

Sen Hadi Sirika on his verified Twitter handle wrote, @hadisirika “Just inspected the Lagos International runway (18R), closed for repairs. I am happy to announce that the work has advanced well. We will finish & resume operations before April ends, in sha Allah. The closure was safety critical. Thank you for your patience & understanding”, the statement said.

It is gratifying for one to note and against all other innuendos, that FAAN under Capt Hamisu Rabiu Yadudu, and being superintended by Sen. Sirika, has by far improved on the airports nationwide.

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