The stench of contractual fraud left behind by Senator Stella Oduah during her tenure as Minister of Aviation remains unceasing. Oduah, whose time as a minister under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan was headlined by the dodgy contract of two bullet-proof BMW cars for her use, was elected senator in the last general elections.
The latest installment of controversy of her legacy as a minister is coming from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, which was closed down for over two years to allow for its upgrade into a real international airport. To this end, a contract was awarded at the cost of N86billion.
The airport runway, built in the 70s, stretches over a distance of 2.6km , which was to be extended to 3.6km to meet the global international runway standards.The old 2.6km runway was pot-hole ridden, making it risky for landing.
Palliative measures were occasionally carried out on the runway at night to arrest further deterioration of the runway, but they did not eliminate the risk.
The contractor’s brief was to scrape off the original 2.6km runway that and construct an entirely new one. However, what was done the dressing of its surface and the addition of a new one-kilometer stretch to make it 3.6km. But even the new one was shoddily built, making it unable to meet the standard specifications for runway construction.
Sources revealed to this medium that no soil analysis was conducted before construction. This has been blamed for the regular flooding when the rains come.
Being the only one runway at the airport, not more than one plane can land or take off at the same time. The runway, as it is, cannot accommodate bigger planes like Boeing 747 and 777, a situation that makes the airport less than a lucrative destination for airlines. The airport is made more unappealing regarding profit by the absence of cargo warehouse facilities.
And currently, despite the vast amounts expended, there is no perimeter fencing around the runway. A case of a loiterer blocking a plane from taking off was reported late last year.
Also, the airport does not have instrument landing systems, ILS
It has an improvised solar lighting on the runway; the airport authorities said works for between two to three hours daily. Ideally, it should work all day. Similarly unavailable are CCTV cameras. The shuttle bus service for passengers has been discontinued by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAAN). As a result, passengers are left to trek to the aircraft even when it is raining.
The decrepit situation at the airport has led to the decision of Lufthansa and Emirates airlines to defer the commencement of their ope rations on that route. Moreover, the runway represents a clear and present danger to flight safety.