The Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu State has had its share of setbacks ever since it was closed in August for security reasons.
The issues surrounding the reopening of the airport might never end following a fresh crisis arising over land ownership at the airport. The dispute may affect the rehabilitation of the airport, as scheduled by Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika.
The Details: The dispute is between a real estate developer, Arch. J.J Emejulu and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). Actually, Emejulu is seeking a legal right to claim his lands currently utilised by the Airport according to The Nation.
However, that is not the only land dispute over the same piece of land. The Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Air Force are also in contention over the land on which the Enugu Airport was built, a source disclosed. The source hinted that efforts to bring the airport into full operation might fail if any act of trespassing was observed around the reserved space.
Bone of contention: The runway is the landmass in contention by diverse interests. A source from FAAN in Enugu noted that if the land was lost to the divergent interests, extension of the runway would be stalled.
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The Chairman of House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, who was actively involved in the progress of the airport had warned all interests to discontinue their moves in possessing the land.
Emeka Ugwuoju, President of Southeast and Southsouth Professionals, advocated for peace and called on all parties to sheath their swords for the common good. He emphasized the importance of the Enugu Airport to the region and labelled anyone who failed to support the project as a saboteur, working against the general interest of the entire southeast region.
What you should know: The Enugu airport was closed to address and resolve the safety and security concerns regarding flight operations, as it had a bad runway and landing aids. International flights had been diverted to the Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers by Ethiopian Airlines due to the closure of the airport. In the same vein, domestic flights were diverted to the Sam Mbwkwe Airport, Owerri, the Port Harcourt Airport and the Asaba Airport in Delta.
In a recent Nairametric article, the rehabilitation of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu State was slated for December 2019, according to the Aviation Minister Senator Hadi Sirika.